There is no evidence to suggest that the newly-detected Japanese mutation made the coronavirus more aggressive, World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
On Sunday, Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases reported detecting a new variant of the coronavirus in four people who arrived from Brazil.
“Over the weekend, the WHO was notified by Japan about a new variant of the virus. The more the virus spreads, the higher the chance of new changes to the virus,” Tedros said at a daily briefing, adding that “at present, the variants do not seem to show increased severity of the disease.”
The WHO chief urged everyone to continue observing personal protective measures, such as avoiding close contact with other people and wearing masks, adding that “limiting transmission limits the chance of dangerous new variants to develop.”
The Japanese mutation is believed to be similar to those detected in the United Kingdom and South Africa in late December.
UK health authorities said their strain was estimated up to 70 per cent more contagious than the original coronavirus. There is yet no data to suggest that either of these variants is more deadly or causes stronger symptoms.