Tokyo hospitals on alert for India variant

Medical institutions in Tokyo have begun screening coronavirus patients for the variant spreading in India.

The Tokyo Medical and Dental University Hospital this month began checking its coronavirus patients for infection by the variant.

The hospital had been screening patients for the variant first detected in Britain, but decided to check for the new type following its rapid spread last month in India.

Of 37 patients screened through Monday, one tested positive for the India variant.

The patient became seriously ill at one point and was put on a ventilator, but recovered after being given antiviral and anti-inflammatory medication.
The patient reportedly showed no markedly different symptoms compared to those of the UK variant.

The patient had not traveled abroad.

Associate Professor Takeuchi Hiroaki at Tokyo Medical and Dental University says it is highly likely that the patient got the virus through community spread and that there are others with it in the vicinity.

Takeuchi says it is important to check the spread of the India variant to help hospitals consider what kind of medical system they should arrange.

He points out that the number of cases of the variant is still small, but that it could follow the same path as the UK variant in a few months unless tougher countermeasures are put in place.