Japan to close borders in response to new Covid-19 variant
Authorities in Japan have confirmed the destination will bar entry to visitors from around the world as fears over a new Covid-19 variant grow.
The decision comes just weeks after the country softened entry rules, largely in place since the outbreak of the pandemic last spring.
“We will ban the new entry of foreigners from around the world starting from November 30th,” Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida said.
Omicron, the new variant of the coronavirus, was spotted in South Africa last week.
In response, Japan tightened entry restrictions for people arriving from South Africa and eight other countries in the region over the weekend.
Guests are currently required to undergo a ten-day quarantine at government-designated facilities.
Britain and a number of other destinations have also banned travel from a number of destinations in southern Africa.
The new announcement means Japan will restore border controls it eased earlier this month for short-term business visitors, foreign students and workers.
The country has recorded just over 18,300 coronavirus deaths during the pandemic but has avoided tough lockdowns.
About 76.5 per cent of the population is now fully inoculated, despite a slow start.
Little is known about the new Covid-19 strain, including whether it is more contagious, more likely to cause serious illness or more able to evade the protection of vaccines.
However, that has not stopped countries from Israel to Morocco, Switzerland and Singapore from rushing to act.