Over 230 cases of highly infectious variant strains of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed in 19 of the 47 prefectures in Japan.
According to a Japanese government data showed yesterday, health experts warned of a potential “fourth wave” of infections.
The data showed how the Japanese government is monitoring three mutant strains of the coronavirus originating from Britain, South Africa and Brazil following the first confirmed case of the new variants on Dec. 25 and now 234 cases have been reported as of Thursday, including those detected at airport quarantine.
Saitama Prefecture accounted for the most cases at 38, followed by Hyogo Prefecture at 36 and Niigata at 29. Some regions reported cases that were part of cluster infections. Although yet to be confirmed, the new strains are also suspected to be present in other parts of Japan including Hiroshima Prefecture.
According to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, 93 percent of cases reported as of Feb. 25 in Japan were of people who had no record of overseas travel. Those in their 30s to 50s accounted for the most cases at 47 percent, followed by those in their 20s or younger at 39 percent, and those in their 60s or older at 14 percent.
Of the three variants, the British strain made up the vast majority of cases at 96 percent.
In response to the growing number of cases in Japan, the central government will establish a system where local municipalities can conduct PCR tests for the mutant strains aiming for local governments to test around five to 10 percent of the samples provided by patients infected with COVID-19.