Japan finds more than 90 cases of new COVID-19 strain as immigration centre reports infections

An infection cluster emerged at a Tokyo immigration facility, confirming a new variant of COVID-19 in Japan while the country is currently trying to overcome a third wave of the existing pandemic.

As many as 91 cases of the new variant has been found in the Kanto area of eastern Japan. Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters, “two more cases have been reported at the airports.”

Japan is keeping a close check on the vaccine that it started distributing last week. The government is raising surveillance against mutant varieties as they may be more resistant to vaccines.

The new strain appears to have originated overseas but is different from other types that have been found sporadically in Japan, according to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases. It has the E484K mutation on the spike protein of the virus that has been found in other variants, which may undermine the effectiveness of vaccines.

Japan has reported 151 cases of variants from Britain, South Africa and Brazil, according to the health ministry. The nation has had more than 400,000 cases of COVID-19 with 7,194 fatalities.

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