Japanese doctors have identified a fast-spreading type of the new coronavirus, first seen in Britain, in three people who had not traveled there, the Health Ministry said on Monday.
The three, aged between their 20s to their 60s and residing in Shizuoka prefecture, about 200 km (125 miles) west of Tokyo, first showed symptoms in early January, the ministry said. A health ministry official said that the authorities are checking into how the three became infected. They haven’t found any proof yet that the variant first detected in Britain was spreading in Shizuoka now.
Japan has so far identified 45 cases of new variants of the virus that were first found in Britain, South Africa, and Brazil. This month extended a state of emergency declared in the Tokyo area to seven more areas to curb the growing COVID-19 cases. The country has recorded about 335,000 cases of infection in total so far, including 4,500 deaths.