The Omicron variant could add pressure to a chronic shortage of microchips used in car manufacturing, the boss of car giant Nissan has warned.
Makoto Uchida said it was too early to say when normal deliveries, and therefore finished cars, would resume.
“I can’t give you a date. This new variant could add pressure to that, so how well we react is going to be crucial,” he told the BBC.
Products from cars, washing machines and smartphones rely on computer chips.
Some factories had to close when the pandemic first struck in 2020, leading to a backlog in production in microchips, also known as semiconductors.
The impact was exacerbated by soaring demand, with people working from home needing laptops, tablets and webcams to help them do their jobs.
“We have a semiconductor shortage as an industry and how we recover from that is critical,” Mr Uchida told the BBC.
Japan has banned incoming flights from abroad in response to the international alarm over the omicron variant first detected in South Africa.
Mr Uchida’s comments come as Nissan announced its vehicle electrification strategy, which includes the proposed introduction of 23 electrified models by 2030, and the ambition that by 2026, 75% of the companies European sales will be electric vehicles.
Earlier this year, Nissan announced a £1bn investment to turn its Sunderland plant in the UK into a hub for electric vehicle production.