Covid-19: Japan Reports First Case of Lambda Variant Infection
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The lambda variant of the novel coronavirus, first identified in Peru, has been detected in Japan for the first time, the Japanese health ministry officials confirmed.
The variant was detected in a woman in her 30s at Haneda Airport who arrived from Peru on July 20, according to the ministry.
She tested positive for the coronavirus in a quarantine check at the airport, with no symptoms.
The virus was confirmed to be of the lambda variant in an analysis by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, The Japan Times reported.
According to the institute, the lambda variant was first detected in Peru in August last year and has been spreading in South America.
Compared with the conventional strain, the variant may be more infectious and have stronger resistance to vaccines, but its details are not known, the institute said.
Delta variant surges
|People wearing face masks wait to cross a street on July 28, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Yuichi Yamazaki—Getty Images|
Japan's cumulative total of confirmed coronavirus cases topped 1 million on August 6 as the highly contagious Delta variant continues to spread in many parts of the country, Kyodo News said.
The development came as many prefectures in Japan have witnessed their daily confirmed coronavirus cases hit record highs in recent days. Japan confirmed its first COVID-19 case on January 15 last year.
Also on August 6, the Tokyo metropolitan government reported an additional 4,515 cases while Osaka Prefecture logged a record 1,310 infections, amid growing concern about a potential collapse of the medical system in the country due to a resurgence of the virus.
The figure in Tokyo was the second-highest for the capital, which reported a record 5,042 cases on August 5. Tokyo is hosting the Olympics under its fourth state of emergency.
The cumulative nationwide total has doubled in about four months, with highly contagious Alpha and Delta variants of the virus spreading across the country and replacing the original strain.
In the past few weeks, the coronavirus situation has rapidly worsened in many parts of the country, including the Tokyo metropolitan area, the Kansai western region centering on Osaka and the southern island prefecture of Okinawa.
A state of emergency has been issued in those areas. But the measure, which mostly relies on a cooperative public and not a hard lockdown as in some countries, has had little effect in slowing infections, health experts said.
|Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said: "I do not hold the view that the Tokyo Olympics are leading to the spread of the virus." Photo: Reuters|
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on August 6 the Covid-19 situation will be considered when a five-party meeting involving organizers and his government decides whether to hold the Paralympics with spectators.
The central government, the Tokyo government, the organizing committee, the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee will meet after the Olympics end on August 8. The Paralympics are scheduled to begin on Aug. 24, when host city Tokyo will still be under a state of emergency.
The Olympics have been taking place mostly without spectators due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Suga said at a press conference in Hiroshima that the number of people going outside has not increased from levels prior to the Olympics that started on July 23.
"I do not hold the view that the Tokyo Olympics are leading to the spread of the virus," he said.
As the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus is spreading in the country, the government expanded the state of emergency earlier this week and also decided to add prefectures to its quasi-state of emergency./.
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