TOKYO (AP) — Tokyo has confirmed its first case of the omicron variant of the coronavirus in a traveler from the United States, and her friend whom she saw immediately after arrival has since tested positive after going to a soccer game.
Separately, the Health Ministry announced Thursday that one of its quarantine officials also tested positive for the omicron variant. The new findings bring Japan’s confirmed omicron cases to 34.
So far, Japan’s government says all omicron cases have been detected by its border controls, but experts say it would be a matter of time before cases of community transmission start surfacing.
Tokyo’s omicron patient tested negative for COVID-19 upon arrival at the airport on Dec. 8, but developed a fever the next day during her self-isolation at home and tested positive for the virus, the Health Ministry said in a statement. Her samples were further analyzed and confirmed Thursday as the omicron variant.
The men she met immediately after returning also developed a fever and other symptoms. He attended a soccer game with 10 people, including his family and colleagues, before testing positive. His samples were being analyzed for the omicron variant.
The ministry urged spectators who attended the packed Sunday soccer game in Kawasaki, near Tokyo, to get tested.
Japan has stepped up border controls since the omicron variant was first reported in South Africa, and now bans new entry of foreign nationals. Japan has had about 1.73 million cases since the pandemic began, with about 18,400 deaths.