A man who arrived in Japan from the Philippines in February was infected with a new variant of the novel coronavirus, the health ministry said Friday in the first confirmation of such a case.

The variant is distinct from those first discovered in Britain, South Africa and Brazil, and is thought to pose a similar level of threat.

Supplied electron micrograph shows a variant strain of the novel coronavirus originating from Britain. (Photo courtesy of Japan's National Institute of Infectious Diseases)(Kyodo)


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According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the man in his 60s arrived at Narita airport near Tokyo on Feb. 25 and was asymptomatic.

He tested positive after undergoing quarantine at the airport.

The National Institute of Infectious Diseases is calling for stronger border control measures as part of efforts to curb the spread of the virus.