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Japan reported eight new cases of the omicron variant of the coronavirus, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiji Kihara said Friday, bringing the country’s total number of cases involving the variant to 12.

He said all eight cases were detected from the COVID-19 testing conducted on arriving passengers at airports. There is no evidence of community transmission at this point.

Passengers from abroad are required to take COVID-19 tests upon arrival, and all samples of those who tested positive are sent to a lab for genome analysis.

Government sources said the patients arrived from abroad between Nov. 28 and Tuesday, Fuji TV reported.

Of the eight new patients, two are people who were in close contact with the person who had the country’s first case of omicron, Kihara said. The first case detected in Japan was a male Namibian diplomat in his 30s who had arrived in Tokyo from Namibia on Nov. 28. He was confirmed to have contracted the omicron variant two days later.

Kihara did not elaborate on the other six cases, saying the health ministry will brief the media later.

“We will take appropriate measures to prevent the spread of the virus,” Kihara said.

A senior government official said the fact that all cases were detected via airport screenings shows that measures to detect cases at airports upon arrival are working.

Japan has also tightened its net to detect new cases of the omicron variant by designating all people on the same plane as an infected person as a close contact.

The government had increased the number of government-designated facilities, where travelers arriving from countries where the omicron variant has been detected will be required to stay for three to 10 days, to around 10,000 rooms by Friday, from 7,350 in early December.

With the year-end holiday season arriving, when more people are likely to travel to Japan to spend time with their loved ones, there are rising concerns that Japan may run out of designated quarantine facilities.

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