Tokyo, March 12 (Jiji Press)–A novel coronavirus variant first detected in the Philippines has been found in a man who arrived in Japan from the Southeast Asian country, the health ministry said Friday.
The man in his 60s, who arrived at Narita International Airport in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, on Feb. 25, tested positive for the coronavirus in airport quarantine. He is receiving treatment at a designated facility.
According to the ministry and the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, infections with the variant in question have been found in the central part of the Philippines since late January. A total of 34 cases have been confirmed in the country so far.
It is believed to be the first time for the variant to be found outside the Philippines.
It is possible that the variant, like those spreading in Britain and elsewhere, is more contagious than the original virus.
The Philippine variant may be more resistant to neutralizing antibodies, including those gained through vaccination, as South African and Brazilian variants appear to be.
The ministry will consider enhancing border control measures while watching whether the Philippine variant is spreading in Japan.