Be Prepared for Omicron's Community Transmission: Japan Panel

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Tokyo, Dec. 16 (Jiji Press)--Japan should be prepared for community transmission of the omicron variant of the novel coronavirus, a health ministry advisory panel of experts said Thursday.

"It is necessary to make preparations for the expected spread (of the variant) in the country, including through community transmission," panel chair Takaji Wakita, director-general of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, told a panel meeting.

Experts including Kyoto University professor Hiroshi Nishimura reported the estimated infectiousness of the omicron variant. They cited data from Denmark indicating that the effective reproduction number, or the number of people infected by a single carrier, for the omicron variant is 3.97 times that of the delta strain.

"Data show that omicron variant infections spread at a high speed," Wakita said. "It is necessary to discuss how much strain could be caused to the medical system."

Regarding the country's overall coronavirus situation, the panel said that the number of new cases "is lowest since summer last year while it is on an upward trend recently."

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press