But what this means for the pandemic is yet to be determined.

Try as it might, Japan can’t get a handle on the coronavirus pandemic. Though the country’s vaccination campaign has picked up recently–with 46.5 percent of the population double-vaccinated as of this writing–the number of cases has been rising rapidly in the last month.

Part of that appears to be due to the highly contagious Delta variant that has spread across the world. Japan has been grappling with this variant as well, but now it’s now developed its own mutation of the Delta variant, which was confirmed by researchers this week.

The new N501S variant was discovered in patients at the Tokyo Medical and Dental University when a research team examined the genes of the Delta variant that the patients had contracted. Based on its genetic makeup, the team believes it’s highly likely that the variant must have developed domestically, and was not imported from abroad.

Since the N501S mutation is still brand new, it’s not yet known how contagious it is or how seriously it affects patients. Hiroaki Takeuchi, assistant professor at the Tokyo Medical and Dental University, stressed the importance of expanding observation of the virus’ mutation patterns. Without studying how the virus mutates, it will be hard to continue to treat, prevent, and cure it.

He also added, “As long as the virus continues to spread within the country, there’s always a risk of the virus creating mutations, so it’s important to stop the spread of the virus as best as we can.” Prevention remains more important than ever.

With just about everything open and major events back on, things almost feel like they’re back to normal in Tokyo, but it’s important to note that there is still a high risk of infection, and caution is still necessary. According to The Japan Times, the Delta variant is believed to be the dominant strain in Japan at the moment, which means there is a greater chance of getting infected and becoming seriously ill.

Some places are even starting to close up shop again, so the need to get vaccinated, keep wearing a mask, wash your hands, and avoid enclosed, crowded places is imperative if we want to keep people safe from this deadly virus.

Source: Chuo Nippou via Yahoo! News via My Game News Flash, The Japan Times
Top image: Pakutaso

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