As of December 27, eight cases of mutant COVID-19 infection found in the United Kingdom have been confirmed in Japan.
Worryingly, the mutant virus has witnessed “human-to-human transmission” in Japan, and the domestic activity trajectory of infected people, no longer limited to airports and designated isolation places (hotels), has entered Tokyo.
According to a Yomiuri Shimbun on the 27th, at a press conference on the same day, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan confirmed that a woman in her 50s in Tokyo was infected with mutant COVID-19, which was the eighth case of mutant strain infection found in Japan.
Screenshots of Yomiuri News Report
The woman flew back to Tokyo Haneda Airport from the United Kingdom on December 13 and tested negative for antigen at the airport. It is reported that instead of going home to live, she booked a hotel and began a two-week self-isolation.
At the press conference, the Ministry of Labor and Labour specifically emphasized that she did not use public transportation facilities and had no close contacts when she returned to her place of residence.
On the 19th, the woman developed fever and sore throat, and tested positive for COVID-19 in a medical institution. On the 22nd, she was admitted to a medical institution in Tokyo.
Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases confirmed on the 27th that the novel coronavirus infected by women was a mutant virus found in the United Kingdom.
The Ministry of Health and Labour said that due to the discovery of the mutant virus, the government is strengthening the quarantine measures for British returnees. Even if the airport tests negative, they need to wait for three days at the established accommodation and be checked again.
A day ago (26th), a young couple living in Tokyo was also diagnosed with the mutant virus. Her husband was a pilot of a Japanese airline and flew back to Japan from Britain on the 16th.
Because he is a flight attendant, he has not been tested for COVID-19 at the airport. On the 21st, he developed symptoms of infection and was diagnosed in a medical institution. His wife was also infected and coughed; both were admitted to the hospital on the 24th; this is the first time that the mutant virus has appeared in Japan. On the same day, the Japanese government announced that all foreigners were banned from entering the country (but business dealings with 16 countries and regions with mainland China and Taiwan, including the epidemic control are not affected).
In addition, the Ministry of Labor urgently announced that nucleic acid testing is required for all flight attendants who return from countries where mutant virus infection occurs.
On the 25th, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare confirmed the five people who were first infected with the mutant virus in Japan. They returned from the United Kingdom between the 18th and the 21st. The five people tested positive for COVID-19 at the airport and were admitted to designated isolation sites.
On the 27th, the Japan Broadcasting Association (NHK) quoted Takashi Waka Owada, director of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, as saying, “Because you can’t go to identify the genetic sequences of all viruses (of the patient’s infection), the number of mutant virus infections may increase in the future. Everyone should completely adhere to the basic epidemic prevention countermeasures and reduce the risk of ‘3 secrets’.
Director Takashi Wakada believes that mutant virus infection will increase in the future. Screenshot of NHK report
According to NHK statistics, as of 3:00 p.m. local time on the 28th, 481 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Tokyo, which is the highest new data released by Tokyo on Monday (from historical data, the number of new confirmed cases in Japan will decrease significantly every Monday).
However, it is worrying that the positive rate of people tested in Tokyo exceeded 8% on the 25th to 8.2%, the highest since the declaration of the lifting of the state of emergency in May.
Tokyo’s positive rate exceeds 8%, screenshot of NHK report
It is the “end of the year” period in Japan, which is the peak period for companies and organizations to hold “forget the annual meeting” dinner. The number of people traveling and playing at night in downtown areas has increased significantly.
According to a report by Asahi TV station at noon today (28th), in many busy streets in Tokyo, the number of travelers on the evening of the 27th increased significantly compared with a week ago, with 11.7% increase in the surroundings of Shibuya Station, 21.8% in Ikebukuro and 11.9% in Ginza. In Hokkaido, Osaka and other other regions, the number of people traveling at night in some downtown areas increased by more than 30%.
Screenshots of Asahi TV reports on the increase in the number of night trips in various places
The Japanese government announced on the 26th that from the 28th to the end of January next year, new entry from all countries and regions will be suspended, but the new policy will not affect the exchange of business personnel from mainland China, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore and other countries and regions with better epidemic control. In addition to short-term business visas, mainland Chinese visitors to Japan can also enter Japan through student visas.