Japan confirmed its first deaths among people infected with the omicron coronavirus variant Saturday.
The Shizuoka Municipal Government said that a man who died on Tuesday at a medical institution was confirmed to have been infected with the omicron variant based on genomic testing. He was elderly and had severe pre-existing conditions.
The Chiba Prefectural Government said that an elderly woman who also died Tuesday had been infected with the highly contagious variant as well. She had a pre-existing disease that affected her circulatory system.
The woman was a close contact with a family member infected with the coronavirus and she was hospitalized from early January after displaying COVID-19 symptoms, including a fever. She had received two shots of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The omicron variant was first reported by South Africa in November. The first known fatality was confirmed in Britain on Dec. 13.
As omicron replaces delta as the dominant COVID-19 variant, the weekly number of the new coronavirus cases in the world has hit a record high of over 15 million.
Meanwhile, the weekly number of coronavirus deaths worldwide is staying around 50,000 — far lower than the peak of over 100,000.
According to the health ministry, 3,699 people had been officially confirmed to be infected with the omicron variant in Japan as of Thursday, but 80% to 90% of all new coronavirus cases in the country are believed to be infections with the omicron strain.
In Okinawa Prefecture, where the variant is raging, over 90% of omicron carriers have been found to be asymptomatic or have only mild symptoms.
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