Japan on December 28 detected one case of the new coronavirus variant 501.V2 from South Africa, the government announced in a statement. Several cases of the new highly transmissible coronavirus variant spreading in the UK have been already found in the country in people who had recently arrived from the UK. According to sources of local broadcaster Japan Times, the case of the South Africa variant had been identified in a woman in her 30s who arrived in Japan on Dec. 19. Health officials said that the variant might be responsible for the sudden surge in the coronavirus outbreak across Japan. 

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told a press conference that with the new year holidays ahead and the understaffed hospitals, the ministers had to remain alert. Further, he suspended new entries of the nonresident foreign nationals into Japan with immediate effect to curb the spread from the ‘dangerously transmissible’ coronavirus variant. He said that the new travel restrictions were aimed to protect Japan’s citizens’ lives and livelihoods, by taking measures in advance to forestall the spread of the new variant.