France has detected its first case of the South African variant of coronavirus, health ministry confirmed on December 31. The mutant virus named 501.V2, was detected on the African continent in mid-December and since then has spread to countries as far as the UK and Japan. France, one of the most affected European nation has reported over 26,77,666 cases and over 64,759 fatalities till now.
As per a statement by the health ministry, the infection was found in a man who had returned after a brief stay in South Africa. The unidentified man is reported to be a resident of Haut-Rhin region which borders Switzerland. Upon, his return, the man had undergone the RT-PCR test following symptoms suggestive of COVID-19.
His sample was then tested by National Reference Center for Emerging Viral Infections (CRIVE Switzerland) and the National Reference Center for Respiratory Infections Viruses (CNR France), both of which confirmed that it was the South African variant. In the aftermath of detection, the man is kept in isolation and is recovering well. The authorities have also set up a robust contact tracing system to stop the infection from spreading further.
Japan had detected the case of the new coronavirus variant 501 on December 28, the government announced in a statement. Several cases of the new highly transmissible coronavirus variant spreading in the UK have been already found in the country in people who had recently arrived from the UK. According to sources of local broadcaster Japan Times, the case of the South Africa variant had been identified in a woman in her 30s who arrived in Japan on Dec. 19. Health officials said that the variant might be responsible for the sudden surge in the coronavirus outbreak across Japan.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told a press conference that with the new year holidays ahead and the understaffed hospitals, the ministers had to remain alert. Further, he suspended new entries of the nonresident foreign nationals into Japan with immediate effect to curb the spread from the ‘dangerously transmissible’ coronavirus variant.