Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) has discovered a new mutant strain of COVID-19 in four travelers who arrived in the country from Brazil on Jan. 2, CNBC reported Monday.
The four COVID-19 carriers came from Brazil’s Amazonas state, according to CNBC. Those infected included a male in his 40s who was asymptomatic upon arrival and worsened later on, a female in her 30s with a sore throat and headache, a male between 10 and 19 with a fever and an asymptomatic female over the age of 10.
The new variant of the coronavirus has mutations in common the highly infectious strains discovered in the United Kingdom and South Africa, CNBC reported, though the NIID has not determined exactly how infectious the new mutant is or whether vaccines will be effective against it. While the recently discovered strains from Japan, South Africa and U.K. make the virus highly contagious, they do not appear to make these variants cause greater sickness in people, according to CNBC.
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the organization has been alerted to Japan’s new COVID-19 strain, according to CNBC. He remarked that the newly discovered coronavirus mutants are “highly problematic” and could lead to an increase in hospitalizations if they aren’t prevented from spreading. (RELATED: Japan’s Prime Minister Insists Summer Olympics Will Still Happen Amid Rise In COVID-19 Cases)
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a press conference organised by the Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents (ACANU) amid the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus, on July 3, 2020 at the WHO headquarters in Geneva. (Fabrice Coffrini/Getty Images)
“The more the virus spreads, the higher the chance of new changes to the virus,” he said.