TOKYO -- Japan's National Institute of Infectious Diseases raised the alert level for the new omicron variant of the coronavirus to a "variant of concern" (VOC) -- the highest of three levels -- on the night of Nov. 28.
The World Health Organization also designated the new variant a VOC on Nov. 26.
After the national institute designated the virus as a "variant of interest" -- the second highest alert level -- on Nov. 26, it decided to further strengthen its monitoring following a spate of infection cases in countries in Europe and elsewhere. The Japanese government expanded the area subject to border control restrictions for the new omicron variant to nine African countries on Nov. 28.
(Japanese original by Takuji Nakanishi, Lifestyle and Medical News Department)