Tokyo, December 25: Japan has confirmed the detection of new COVID-19 variant "B117", which is being linked to the United Kingdom. The country had, a day earlier, found five flight passengers returning from the UK as coronavirus positive. Their tests revealed that they were carrying the mutated version of the virus, which is responsible for the unprecedented surge in cases across Britain and parts of Europe.

Out of the five passengers who were diagnosed with COVID-19 caused by the new virus strain, three had landed in Osaka and two in Tokyo. They were placed under institutional quarantine, reported NHK News. The authorities are also scanning their routes and ascertaining whether they came in close contact with anyone after landing at the airport. Israel to Speed Up COVID-19 Vaccination Due to New Strain.

Across Japan, the cases have hit a record-high, with Friday marking the third consecutive day with over 3,000 new COVID-19 infections being detected. The Health Department today confirmed that 3,748 persons tested positive in the last 24 hours, which is the highest per-day count in Japan since the pandemic began,

The maximum number of new infections were reported in capital and business hub Tokyo. The city detected 884 new cases, with around 81 patients being severely ill. A bulk of the new cases - 246 - pertained to those aged in their 20s. 94 persons aged above 65 also tested positive.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga appealed the nation to exercise maximum cautions in order to curb the pace of infections. Strict adherence to the COVID-19 safety protocols, including use of face masks, hand sanitizers and maintaining social distance is essential to control the crisis amid the ongoing festive season.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Dec 25, 2020 08:10 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website