Japan confirms 8 more cases of new coronavirus variant

Health officials in Japan have confirmed eight more cases of the new omicron variant of the coronavirus, bringing the country’s total to 12

Two of them, a woman in her 30s and a boy, arrived from Namibia on Nov. 28 on the same flight as a Namibian diplomat who was Japan’s first confirmed case of the omicron variant, Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiji Kihara said.

Japan has stepped up quarantine requirements in response to the new variant, and the government has secured 10,000 hotel rooms.

Experts say it’s not clear whether the omicron variant is more contagious or dangerous than previous strains of the virus, but urge people to continue with mask wearing and other anti-virus measures.

Japan’s COVID-19 infections have slowed since September. It reported 165 new cases on Thursday for an accumulated total of nearly 1.72 million, including about 18,400 deaths. More than 77% of Japanese have been fully vaccinated, and booster shots began this month, starting with medical workers.

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