1st community-acquired omicron case confirmed in Osaka

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura speaks at a press conference at the Osaka prefectural government office on Wednesday.

The Osaka prefectural government announced Wednesday that three residents of the prefecture who have been infected with the omicron variant were a couple and a child, and their infections have been classified as community-acquired cases because the three have no history of overseas travel and their route of infection is unknown.

According to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, this is the first time that a case of community-acquired infection with the omicron variant has been confirmed in Japan, and all three are currently hospitalized with mild symptoms.

According to the prefectural government, the three are a couple in their 30s and one of their three children, a preschool girl. They had fevers and other symptoms between Saturday and Monday, and were found to be positive for coronavirus after visiting a medical institution on Monday.

Based on the results of subsequent genome analysis, all three were confirmed to be infected with the omicron variant on Wednesday. The couple had received two doses of the vaccine. The couple’s two other children have both tested positive for coronavirus, but whether they are infected with the omicron variant is still being analyzed.

Three of their relatives are considered close contacts, and will be under health observation at a hotel secured by the prefecture.

Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Shigeyuki Goto said on Wednesday that he had issued a notice to local governments across the country asking them to strengthen their health and medical systems, including health monitoring and testing of people receiving treatment at home, in preparation for the likely rapid spread of the omicron variant.

Wider inspection

Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon that he wants to slow down the spread of infections by conducting a wide range of tests even for those who are not known to have been in close contact with infected individuals.

The man infected with the omicron variant is a teacher at an elementary school in Neyagawa, Osaka Prefecture. On Monday, when he was confirmed to be positive for coronavirus, the city withdrew all children (about 560) from the school and temporarily closed it.

All children and teachers are being tested. On Wednesday, one teacher was found to be positive for coronavirus, and is now being checked to see if it is the omicron variant.

Many in isolation in Osaka

In Osaka Prefecture, as of Wednesday, 568 people have been identified as close contacts of people who were found to be infected with the omicron variant through airport quarantine checks. Of these, 314 are currently in residential facilities.

In preparation for a sixth wave of infections, the prefectural government has set aside 3,680 beds for COVID-19 patients, and will ensure that coronavirus-positive people who are suspected of being infected with the omicron variant are hospitalized.

In addition, the Osaka prefectural government decided at a meeting of the task force held on Wednesday to continue to limit the number of people at each table in restaurants in the prefecture to no more than four until the end of January next year.

The number of newly infected people per day in the prefecture has been below 20 for some time, but Yoshimura said, “I don’t know how much the number will increase or what kind of wave will come, but looking at the situation overseas, there is a high possibility that the infections will spread.”