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In this file photo, women wearing protective face masks walk past the arrival zone at Narita International Airport, east of Tokyo, Nov. 2, 2020.

ISSEI KATO/Reuters

The new variant of coronavirus linked to a rapid rise in infections in Britain has been detected in Sweden and Japan.

Japan has decided to ban all new entries of foreign nationals from Dec. 28 to the end of January following the detection of a new variant of the coronavirus in arrivals from Britain, Nikkei reported on Saturday.

Japan on Friday reported its first cases of a fast-spreading variant in passengers arriving from Britain. The new variant has also been detected in a man who visited that country and a family member - the first cases of infected people found outside airport checks - Nippon TV reported on Saturday.

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COVID-19 variants reveal evolution’s power to rearm pandemic

Tokyo reported a record rise in coronavirus cases on Saturday. Infections hit a record 949 in the capital just as Japan heads into New Year holidays that normally see people stream from the capital into the provinces. Serious cases were unchanged from a day earlier at 81.

Tokyo transport hubs were subdued, local media said, a day after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, under pressure as cases continue to climb, urged the nation to stay home and avoid social mixing.

In Sweden, a traveller from the United Kingdom became ill and tested positive, the Swedish Health Agency said on Saturday.

Health Agency official Sara Byfors told a news conference the traveller had been isolating and that no further positive cases had so far been detected.

The unidentified traveller was staying in Sormland, south of Stockholm, according to Signe Makitalo, a regional infection control doctor.

“The person that tested positive with the virus travelled to Sormland from Great Britain for a visit over Christmas,” Makitalo said, adding that the risk of further contagion from the case was considered extremely limited.

Sweden imposed travel restrictions earlier this month on passengers from Britain amid concerns over the variant. Similar measures have been taken by several other countries in the EU and across the world.

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