Japan recorded its first case of the Omicron coronavirus variant on Tuesday in a man who arrived in Tokyo from Namibia on Sunday, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno Hirokazu (pictured below) told reporters at a conference Press.
The Japanese government confirmed the new infection the same day it imposed a month-long ban on all foreign entry into Japan. The travel restriction was introduced in response to news that a new variant of ‘Covid-19’ or the Chinese coronavirus, called Omicron, has emerged in southern Africa this month.
Matsuno told reporters on November 30 that Omicron’s first Japanese patient was “a Namibian diplomat in his thirties who arrived at the airport in Narita, the Japanese capital. [on November 28]. “
Japan’s health ministry said the man showed “no symptoms” of illness upon arriving in Tokyo-Narita on Sunday “but developed a fever on Monday.”
“Two family members traveling with him have tested negative and are in quarantine at a government-designated facility,” according to the ministry.
“The man tested positive for the coronavirus upon arrival and samples were being examined at [Japan’s] National Institute of Infectious Diseases to confirm if it was the Omicron variant, ”Matsuno told reporters at Tuesday’s press conference.
“About 70 people who were on the same flight as the man… have tested negative and are being treated as close contacts,” Japanese Health Minister Goto Shigeyuki told reporters on November 30.
Goto said Omicron’s Namibian patient is currently being quarantined at a state-run facility. The Minister of Health added that the patient was “completely vaccinated”, without however specifying with what type of vaccine.
Matsuno said on Tuesday that the discovery of patient Omicron demonstrated that the Japanese government had made the right decision in choosing to close its borders to all foreign entry this week.
“In order to avoid the worst-case scenario with Omicron, we will stay abreast of the infection situation in each country and react in a flexible and swift manner,” the secretary general of the Cabinet of Japan told reporters.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared Omicron a “variant of concern” on November 26. The United Nations public health agency said Omicron has “several mutations that can impact its behavior, such as how easily it spreads or how severe the disease it causes. Further study is needed to definitively find out whether Omicron is more transmissible or causes more severe disease than existing variants of “Covid-19,” which is the name for the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, a type of coronavirus.
“The emergence of the Omicron variant comes as Japan experiences a decline in infections,” Kyodo News observed on November 30. “Only 132 new cases of the coronavirus were reported across the country on Tuesday.”
“The previous wave of infections, caused by the Delta variant [of coronavirus] this summer peaked at more than 25,000 cases per day, ”recalled the Japanese news agency.