A new mutant strain of coronavirus has been discovered in Japan which health official say has similarities to that of the highly-contagious variants in Britain and South Africa. 

The mutation, which has not been spotted before, was found in four people who arrived on a flight from Brazil. 

According to Nikkei Asia, the passengers landed at Haneda Airport in Tokyo on Saturday, January 2. 

The group, described as men and women aged from their teens to 40s, took tests at the airport which came back positive. 

Three of those who tested positive for the virus displayed symptoms including breathing difficulties, a fever and a sore throat. 

A new strain of coronavirus has been identified in Japan after four passengers who arrived on a flight from Brazil tested positive at the airport. Pictured: People wear face masks in Tokyo

Three of those who tested positive for the virus displayed symptoms including breathing difficulties, a fever and a sore throat. Pictured: Haneda Airport in Tokyo

According to Bloomberg, one man in his 40s had arrived in Japan without any symptoms but was later hospitalised as he struggled to breath. 

Their tested were taken to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases which confirmed it was the mutated variant.  

Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare reported the new strain to the World Health Organization. 

Available information about the new strain is currently restricted to its genetic make-up and it is not possible yet to determine how infectious it is. 

It is also not possible to know yet whether the vaccines which are being rolled out across the world will be effect in combating it. 

Japan has recently seen more than 7,000 new cases a day, with Tokyo´s daily cases topping 2,000. 

Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare reported the new strain to the World Health Organization. Pictured: People wear masks in the street in Tokyo

Overall, Japan has confirmed more than 270,000 cases, including over 3,900 deaths. 

Several regional governments in Japan have asked for a state of emergency declaration like the one issued by the prime minister to the Tokyo area to stem the surging rise in coronavirus cases. 

The heads of Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures in central Japan relayed their request to Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of coronavirus measures, in an online conference call on Saturday, Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura told reporters. 

There was no immediate decision, but the government panel of medical experts will study the situation, Yoshimura said.

Japan’s state of emergency, which kicked in Friday for Tokyo and nearby Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba, centers around asking restaurants and bars to close at 8 p.m. It lasts for a month but can be extended. 

New mutant strain of coronavirus is discovered in Japan

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