Japan confirms first known local omicron transmissions

Dec 22, 2021, 2:00 AM | Updated: 9:59 am

TOKYO (AP) — Japan on Wednesday confirmed its first known local transmissions of the new omicron variant of the coronavirus in Osaka, a sign it is already making its way in the country.

The family of three in Osaka had no record of traveling overseas and their infections could not be traced, Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura said.

The three are the first known cases of community transmission of the highly infectious omicron variant in Japan, Yoshimura said. “I believe they only happened to be detected and we must take steps on the assumption that there already are other cases of community transmission,” he said.

Yoshimura said current restrictions on eateries in Osaka will remain in place, including a limit of four people per table for a maximum of two hours, to minimize risks during the yearend holiday season, when coronavirus infections surged last year.

More than 100 omicron cases have been identified in mainland Japan, but all involved people who tested positive upon entry at airports or those linked to them, government officials have said.

Health Minister Shigeyuki Goto, responding to the confirmation of the Osaka cases, said the government will do its utmost to prevent a further spread of the variant.

Concerns are also growing on Japan’s southern island of Okinawa, where a large virus cluster has developed at a U.S. military base. Several Japanese employees at the base have tested positive for the omicron variant, raising suspicion they might be linked to the cluster on the base.

As of Wednesday, 215 Marines recently transferred from the U.S. to Camp Hansen on Okinawa have tested positive for the coronavirus, but it is not known if they are omicron cases, Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said.

Hayashi said he urged the commander of U.S. Forces Japan, Lt. Gen. Ricky Rupp, to conduct genomic analyses of the samples, step up anti-virus tests and other measures and prohibit troops from leaving the base to prevent the spread of the virus into the community.

Hayashi said the U.S. military has agreed to cooperate with Japan in testing cases for the omicron variant and share results with Japanese authorities.

Japan eased its border controls in November, but quickly reinstated a ban on most new foreign entrants after omicron was first identified in South Africa.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Tuesday that he plans to keep the border controls, among the world’s most stringent, in place until more details about the omicron variant are known.

Kishida said Japan is also tightening quarantine rules for those who come in close contact with omicron patients, requiring 14 days of isolation at designated facilities instead of the previous self-isolation at home.

He also announced plans to accelerate booster shots of COVID-19 vaccines, which started with medical workers in December.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Reports: 1 dead, 17 hurt in crash outside Pennsylvania bar

BERWICK, Pa. (AP) — One person has died and another 17 people were injured after a vehicle struck a crowd gathered at a Pennsylvania bar on Saturday for an event to raise money for victims of a house fire that killed 10 earlier this month, authorities said. WNEP-TV said the crash occurred outside the Intoxicology […]
24 hours ago
Associated Press

Today in History: August 14, McVeigh sentenced to death

Today in History Today is Sunday, Aug. 14, the 226th day of 2022. There are 139 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On Aug. 14, 1945, President Harry S. Truman announced that Imperial Japan had surrendered unconditionally, ending World War II. On this date: In 1848, the Oregon Territory was created. In […]
24 hours ago
FILE - People spend time at the park at dusk during a summer heat wave, July 21, 2022, in Hoboken, ...
Associated Press

Hot nights: US in July sets new record for overnight warmth

The continental United States in July set a record for overnight warmth, providing little relief from the day's heat meteorologists said.
24 hours ago
FILE - Anne Heche arrives at the 74th annual Directors Guild of America Awards on March 12, 2022, i...
Associated Press

LAPD ends investigation into Anne Heche car crash

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Police Department has ended its investigation into Anne Heche’s car accident, when the actor crashed into a Los Angeles home on Aug. 5. Heche, 53, is brain dead and on life support, pending evaluation for organ donation. “As of today, there will be no further investigative efforts made […]
24 hours ago
Republican Nevada Senate candidate Adam Laxalt, right, takes pictures with supporters at the sevent...
Associated Press

GOP candidates stress urgency at annual Nevada cookout

GARDNERVILLE, Nev. (AP) — Standing in front of 1,500 Republicans at a rural ranch backdropped by the Sierra Nevada mountains, Nevada’s Republican governor candidate Joe Lombardo referenced the “elephant in the room” without naming him. The second-place finisher in the gubernatorial primary, Reno attorney Joey Gilbert, has baselessly claimed the mathematical counting was off and […]
24 hours ago
This image from video released by Snowbasin Resort shows their web cam capture of a meteor flying o...
Associated Press

Officials: Loud ‘boom’ heard in north Utah likely a meteor

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A loud “boom” heard across areas of northern Utah was likely a meteor, officials said Saturday. Reports of the loud noise circulated at about 8:30 a.m., with people from Orem to southern Idaho posting that they heard the “boom,” The Salt Lake Tribune reported. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox tweeted that […]
24 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
Japan confirms first known local omicron transmissions