Brazil and Japan report first cases of the omicron variant

  • Workers get ready for the opening of a new vaccination center in Lisbon, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021. The new center, the biggest in the country, will open Wednesday, Dec. 1. Portuguese health authorities on Monday identified 13 cases of the omicron coronavirus variant among members of a top soccer club and were investigating whether it was one of the first reported cases of local transmission of the virus outside of southern Africa. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)

  • A man wearing a face mask passes by a makeshift COVID-19 testing site in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon).

Brazil and Japan joined the rapidly widening circle of countries to report cases of the omicron variant Tuesday, while new findings indicate the mutant coronavirus was already in Europe close to a week before South Africa sounded the alarm.