A NEW strain of “vaccine-busting” mutant Covid has been found in a traveller who arrived in Japan from the Philippines, officials say.
The 60-year-old man arrived in Narita Airport near Tokyo on February 25 and was asymptomatic, authorities said.
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However, during his mandatory quarantine, he tested positive for Covid-19.
Yesterday, health officials in Japan confirmed that the man was infected with a new variant “distinct” from the new strains found in Brazil, South Africa and the UK.
The Philippines strain is thought to pose a similar threat to those other mutant variants which are more contagious and more deadly than the original coronavirus.
And the newly discovered virus may also be better at killing antibodies including those gained through vaccination – much like the South African and Brazilian variants, reports the Japan Times.
The health ministry said the mutant variant has already spread in the Philippines and in Japan.
A spokesperson said: “The strain has begun to be detected in the Philippines and has spread to some extent here.”
The nationality of the man who carried the virus to Japan last month has not been publicly revealed.
A total of 34 cases have been found in the Philippines since late-January, according to officials in Japan.
Yet, according to CNN Philippines, the Department of Health in the south east Asian country has yet to comment on the new strain.
Meanwhile, surge testing has been deployed to two new areas of London to stop the spread of the South African variant.
Health officials this week said people living in certain areas of Wandsworth must take a Covid test – even if they don’t have symptoms.
It comes after a small number of cases of the South Africa variant, which aren’t linked to travel, were identified.
The variant was first found in the country in December and experts have warned that it can spread at a faster rate than others – with hundreds more cases thought to be undetected.
And experts have warned that the Brazil mutant strain could be three times more infectious than other types and may render vaccines less effective.
The P1 mutation was first detected in jungle city Manaus, where it spread like wildfire as cemeteries filled with hundreds of new graves.
It has become the dominant strain elsewhere in Brazil, driving an alarming rise in deaths and infections.
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In the UK, the Kent Covid variant is up to twice as deadly compared with the original strain, scientists have warned.
The strain is the most dominant in Britain and has reached all corners of the globe.
Covid-19 has killed more than 2.6 million people around the world since the start of the pandemic in late-2019.