Japan's Shizuoka Prefecture to introduce alert mode over UK Covid-19 variant
The Shizuoka prefecture in Japan is to declare a high alert mode over the spread of the UK strain of the coronavirus, which was recently found in people with no record of traveling to the United Kingdom, the NHK public broadcaster reported on Tuesday.
On Monday, the Japanese Health Ministry said that the three cases were recorded in Shizuoka among people aged between 20 and 70. None of the infected patients have ever been to the UK, however, they may have been in contact with those who have. The matter is being investigated.
Meanwhile, the southernmost prefecture of Okinawa is preparing to introduce its third state of emergency since April due to a surge in Covid-19 cases, according to the Ryukyu Shimpo newspaper.
The Japanese government has already declared a state of emergency in 11 of the 47 prefectures, which will last through February 7.
The number of critically ill patients in Japan has exceeded 1,000, marking the highest figure since the beginning of the epidemic. The rise in severe cases in the country has been observed for 17 consecutive days.
So far, the country has registered over 331,000 Covid-19 cases and as many as 4,305 deaths.
Several new mutated Covid-19 strains have been reported across the globe over recent weeks. In mid-December, the UK government reported that a new variant of the disease, which is believed to be up to 70 per cent more transmissible, was discovered in southeast England. Other variants have been discovered in South Africa and Brazil, raising fears over vaccine efficacy.
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