Japan's health ministry says 18 cases of the Eta variant of the coronavirus have been confirmed in Japan. It's the first confirmation of such infections in Japan.
The Eta variant was first detected in Britain in December last year. The World Health Organization added it to its list of Variants of Interest, or VOI, in March.
The ministry says the 18 cases were detected through genetic analysis of samples taken from people who tested positive at quarantine stations after arriving in Japan between December last year and September 3.
The analysis was conducted by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases.
A website that registers genetic sequences of the coronavirus says the Eta variant has been reported in more than 70 countries, mainly in the United States and Europe.
The WHO has designated five coronavirus variants as VOI. The list includes the Lambda variant, spreading mainly in South America, the Mu variant, reported in South America and Europe, and the Kappa variant, first identified in India.