Health officials reported Japan’s first case of the omicron XE derivative strain of the novel coronavirus in a woman who arrived at Narita airport near Tokyo on Monday.
The woman who was in her 30s has remained in the U.S. and showed no symptoms, has arrived at the airport on March 26, said the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare without specifying her nationality.
Japan Confirms First Case of Omicron XE Variant
The woman was diagnosed with XE strain after doctors gave her two shots of a vaccine developed by Pfizer. Scientists were able to find traces of the virus through genetic sequencing tests taken using samples from the woman at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, NIKKEI reported.
She was treated at an infected-persons facility before being discharged when her quarantine period concluded.
According to one report, the strain is a combination of BA.1 and BA.2 subtypes of the omicron variant. The infection rate is said to be 12.6 percent faster than BA.2; however, there are no details on its severity to support this claim.
The basic properties of the subvariant are the same as those of the BA.2 type, and the efficacy of drugs and vaccines against it are considered to be the same.
The institute noted that two samples taken from airport arrivals were likely mixtures of the genetic material from the omicron variant.
Around 1,100 cases of the variant XE have been reported in Britain as of April 5, according to the country’s health institute. Despite this, they accounted for less than 1 percent of infections in the country.
“It has not become the dominant strain in Britain, where it was detected earlier, and it is unlikely that it will spread rapidly in Japan,” said Kazushi Motomura, director of the public health department at the Osaka Institute of Public Health.
“There is no need to be overly afraid at the moment,” Motomura said. “We must continue implementing basic measures to prevent infections, such as promoting additional vaccinations.”