Japan's health ministry says three people in the country have been confirmed to be infected with a new strain of the coronavirus now prevalent in Britain. The ministry says the people have no recent history of overseas travel and no known contact with people infected with the variant.
The ministry suspects they may have contracted the variant through community-acquired infections inside Japan.
The ministry on Monday announced that the three people are aged from their 20s to 60s and live in Shizuoka Prefecture, central Japan.
This is the first time that people who have never been to Britain and whose infection routes are unclear were confirmed to be infected with the variant.
The head of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Wakita Takaji, said the infection routes are being traced and the latest cases suggest that community-acquired infections have occurred in the country.
The latest cases bring the total number of the variant cases in Japan to 45.