First community spread of omicron variant confirmed in Tokyo

Kyodo News

Posted at Dec 24 2021 03:58 PM

Visitors walk around the Tokyo Mega Illumination at the Tokyo City Keiba horse racing track in Tokyo, Japan, Dec. 23, 2021. Kim Kyung-Hoon, Reuters
Visitors walk around the Tokyo Mega Illumination at the Tokyo City Keiba horse racing track in Tokyo, Japan, Dec. 23, 2021. Kim Kyung-Hoon, Reuters

TOKYO— The first case of community transmission of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus has been reported in Tokyo, the metropolitan government said Friday, making the capital the latest area to confirm the spread of the highly contagious strain.

A doctor at a clinic in the capital with no history of recent travel overseas was confirmed to be infected with the variant through an unknown route, it said.

The case in Tokyo follows those reported in the western prefectures of Osaka and Kyoto.

The metropolitan government has classified 5 people as close contacts of the doctor, who has been hospitalized. The five have all tested negative for the virus, it said.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike told a press conference that the doctor had worn a face mask and face guard at work, and that patients at the clinic had not come into close contact with the doctor.

The Tokyo government on Friday also confirmed 3 other cases of the variant, apart from the doctor. All 3 people had a history of overseas travel.

Koike said Tokyo would conduct free COVID-19 tests from Saturday amid growing worries over the variant. It is planning to conduct 30,000 tests per day for those wishing to be tested at 180 locations in the capital, she added.

In Kyoto, the prefectural government said Friday that three people had been infected with the variant through unknown routes, bringing the total number of cases of community transmission in the western prefecture to four.

Cases of community transmission of the variant were first reported in Osaka Prefecture on Wednesday.

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