• Kyodo, Jiji

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A man who arrived in Japan from the Philippines in February was infected with a new variant of the novel coronavirus, the health ministry said Friday, in the first confirmation of such a case.

The variant is distinct from those first discovered in Britain, South Africa and Brazil, and is thought to pose a similar threat. The Philippine variant may be more resistant to neutralizing antibodies, including those gained through vaccination, like the South African and Brazilian variants appear to be.

According to the health ministry, the man in his 60s arrived at Narita Airport near Tokyo on Feb. 25 and was asymptomatic.

He tested positive after undergoing quarantine at the airport and is receiving treatment at a designated facility.

The National Institute of Infectious Diseases is calling for stronger border control measures as part of efforts to curb the spread of the virus and it is keeping an eye on whether the Philippine variant is spreading in Japan.

According to the ministry and the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, infections with the variant in question have been found in the central part of the Philippines since late January. A total of 34 cases have been confirmed in the country so far.

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