Omicron Variant Likely Highly Infectious: Japan Experts

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Tokyo, Dec. 8 (Jiji Press)--The omicron variant of the novel coronavirus can be considered more infectious than other strains, the head of a Japanese health ministry advisory board suggested Wednesday.

"Omicron cases have increased to outnumber delta variant infections in South Africa," advisory board head Takaji Wakita said at the day's meeting.

Hiroshi Nishiura, professor at Kyoto University, and other experts reported that in the early phase of omicron outbreak in the African country, the effective reproduction number, or the average number of people who contracted the variant from one person, was 4.2 times the reproduction number for the delta strain.

"The omicron variant may have certain ability to sneak through the immune system," said Wakita, who also heads the National Institute of Infectious Diseases. "We need to get prepared for a domestic omicron outbreak."

At the meeting, advisory board members called for thorough implementation of infection control measures such as wearing masks and steady promotion of booster vaccine shots, saying coronavirus cases increased from last week.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press