Osaka Finds 4 Omicron Cases Indicating Community Spread, NHK Says


Japan confirmed its first cases of community spread of the omicron variant in Osaka prefecture after finding three cases it couldn’t trace. 

The new variant probably hasn’t spread to a wider region, Health Minister Shigeyuki Goto said in a press conference Wednesday. Of the four omicron cases reported, three were not linked to overseas travel, the Osaka prefecture said in a statement on its website earlier. 

Japan has so far only reported a handful of cases of the new variant, mostly in the densely populated Tokyo area. They were until now all linked to those entering from overseas, or people who have been in close contact with them. Overall new daily coronavirus cases have also been low after peaking in August.

Osaka prefecture is a major business hub in western Japan, home of companies including Sharp Corp. and an area that experienced the early outbreaks of the delta variant earlier in the pandemic. 

Stocks briefly erased gains after broadcaster NHK reported the cases. The Topix closed 0.1% higher after recovering from the dip.