Japan and France Report First Cases of New Coronavirus Variant Found in UK

Five cases of the new coronavirus variant spreading fast across the UK have been found in Japan, and one case has been confirmed in France, while Russia has become the latest country to impose stricter quarantine on travellers from Britain.

Japan has avoided the huge infection numbers seen in countries from the US to Europe, but cases are rising sharply and daily numbers passed 3,000 for the first time this month.

The five people infected with the more highly transmissible form of Covid-19 had all recently arrived from the UK. They have been quarantined, Japanese media reported, and health officials are trying to trace their contacts and possible routes of infection.

France’s first case of the more contagious coronavirus variant is a Frenchman in the town of Tours, in the Centre-Val de Loire region in the western part of the country, who had arrived from London on 19 December. The French health ministry said he was asymptomatic and was currently self-isolating.

The patient was tested in hospital on 21 December and found to have contracted the strain of the virus known as VOC 202012/01.

“The health authorities have carried out contact-tracing for the health professionals taking care of the patient,” the ministry said in a statement. Any of their contacts that were seen as vulnerable would similarly be isolated, the statement said.

In addition to the case, “to date, several positive samples that may suggest the VOC 202012/01 variant are being sequenced” by the specialist laboratories of the Pasteur Institute, the ministry added.

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SOURCE: The Guardian, Emma Graham-Harrison