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WHO assesses danger of new coronavirus strain in Japan

A new variant of coronavirus found in Japan has not yet made the infection more aggressive. Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced at a briefing. RIA Novosti reports.

It was announced recently that specialists from the National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Japan registered a new mutation of SARS-CoV-2 different from those that are spreading in the UK or South Africa. The strain was detected in four people who arrived in the country from Brazil. According to scientists, it is now difficult to assess the «level of pathogenicity, contagiousness, effectiveness of testing methods or vaccines» of this mutation.

«Over the weekend, Japan informed WHO of a new variant of the virus. The more the virus spreads, the higher the chances that new variants will appear. This can lead to an increase in morbidity and hospitalizations, which will complicate the work of hospitals, which are already on the brink,» the head of the WHO said.

In order to properly respond to mutations, it is very important to track and report all changes in the genome of the virus, Tedros Ghebreyesus said. He urged countries to test as many people as possible and to sequence the viruses they detect more often.

This is not an easy process that requires additional equipment. «WHO will provide support in this matter to all countries that need it,» the head of the organization said.

He reminded of importance of wearing masks and keeping social distance. Ghebreyesus explained that limiting the spread of the virus reduces the risk of emergence of new strains.

The new strain was registered in mid-December in the UK. The new mutation of the virus was reported in South Africa. According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), this strain has now become dominant in the country.

Russia has already registered the first case of the ‘British’ strain of SARS-CoV-2 in a Russian who returned from the UK at the end of last year.