Japan on alert as Omicron spreads in communities

NHK -- Dec 26
Japanese officials are on high alert as the Omicron coronavirus variant has started spreading in communities.

Untraceable Omicron infections have been detected in Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo, and Fukuoka. The infected people have not been abroad recently.

The first community transmission in Fukuoka was confirmed on Saturday. The infected man had been in Osaka and Kyoto until two days before he developed symptoms. Officials are investigating whether he contracted the variant there.

The governments of Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo have started allowing residents to take a virus test for free, even if they don't have any symptoms.

The weekly average of new daily coronavirus cases is rising. Risk of infection increases during the New Year holidays as many people travel and attend gatherings.

Government officials are worried the Omicron variant could spread rapidly and put a strain on the medical system. They are working with local officials to secure hospital beds and boost testing capabilities.