Friday, May 20, 2022

Japan confirms first case of Omicron XE in airport arrival

The woman, who had received two shots of the Pfizer vaccine, showed no symptoms.

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Japan has confirmed its first case of the Omicron XE variant in a woman who arrived at Narita airport near Tokyo, according to Kyodo news.

The woman in her 30s, who stayed in the US and showed no symptoms, arrived at the airport on March 26, the health, labour and welfare ministry said Monday without specifying her nationality.

The XE strain was detected through genetic sequencing tests using samples from the woman, who had received two shots of the Pfizer vaccine, at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, it reported.

She was treated at a facility for infected individuals before being released once her quarantine period ended.

The strain is said to be a combination of the BA.1 and BA.2 subtypes of the Omicron variant. One report has said that its infection rate is 12.6% faster than BA.2, although details of its severity are unknown.

The subvariant’s basic properties and the efficacy of drugs and vaccines against it are considered to be the same as the BA.2 type.

The institute said two other samples taken from quarantined airport arrivals appeared to be mixtures of the genetic material of the Omicron variant, but their type could not be specified.

Around 1,100 cases of the XE variant had been confirmed in Britain as of April 5, the institute said, although they accounted for less than 1% of infections in the country.

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