The variant, which the country’s health department said appears to have originated overseas, has infected nearly 100 people.


According to Reuters, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said that 91 infections of a new coronavirus variant had been documented in the Kanto area of eastern Japan, while two other cases were discovered at airports.

“It may be more contagious than conventional strains, and if it continues to spread domestically, it could lead to a rapid rise in cases,” Kato told reporters.

The variant is said to have a mutation on the spike protein that could lower the efficacy of vaccines.

The country’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases said that the variant appears to have originated overseas, but it is different from other variants circulating in Britain, South Africa and Brazil.

Japan has seen over 422,000 cases of the virus and 7,360 deaths since the pandemic began, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.