All national papers gave prominent front- and inside-page play to the Osaka prefectural government’s announcement yesterday that three people from the same family tested positive for the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus and that since they have not traveled overseas recently and the infection routes remain unknown, the cases represent the first community transmission in Japan. Two other family members have also tested positive for COVID-19, although it remains uncertain whether they contracted the Omicron strain.
According to Governor Yoshimura, two other persons, who had not traveled abroad or had contact with the three family members, may also be infected with the emerging strain. The results of genome sequencing of the virus sampled from the two will soon be available. The governor said: “I think all of these cases are community transmissions. It is possible that the Omicron variant has already spread to other parts of the prefecture.”
The GOJ was reportedly alarmed by the detection of the first cases of community transmission. “We will implement tougher infection prevention protocols even more thoroughly and quickly,” Prime Minister Kishida told the press in commenting on the cases last night. While dismissing the possibility that the Omicron strain has already spread across the country, Health Minister Goto said: “As the variant is extremely contagious, public health experts at home and abroad are warning that sooner or later it will spread.”