TOKYO -- The new coronavirus variant first identified in the U.K. has been found in a Tokyo girl with no travel history and no known contact with overseas travelers, the Japanese health ministry announced Friday.
This is the first suspected case of community transmission in the city of this variant, which is said to be 70% more transmissible than the main form of the virus.
With new coronavirus cases surging in Tokyo, the discovery could lead to stronger efforts curb the spread of the pandemic.
The child, who authorities say is under 10 years old, came into close contact with a coronavirus-infected Tokyo man in his 40s. Her case was flagged through PCR testing run by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to identify new variants of COVID-19.
The man also had no travel history abroad or contact with overseas travelers. A virus sample from him was undergoing genomic analysis.
The Tokyo government has tested 1,453 samples from coronavirus-infected people for new variants but has found no suspected cases beyond the girl's so far.
"We don't think there is large-scale spread," said a representative from the health ministry.
The U.K. variant and a variant identified in South Africa have been spreading around the world. Japan has confirmed 39 cases of the former and five cases of the latter so far. Of these, four are suspected to stem from community transmission.
Tokyo on Friday reported 1,175 new infections, down from 1,471 a day earlier. New cases remained above 1,000 for a 10th straight day.