Japan to halt new entry of foreign nationals over new virus strain

Japan to halt new entry of foreign nationals over new virus strain

Japan will temporarily suspend new entry into the country of nonresident foreign nationals from around the world from Monday through the end of January as a precautionary step against the new, potentially more transmissible coronavirus variant, the government said Saturday.

The government said it has decided to take the measure as the variant, first detected in Britain, is spreading in several countries.

Japanese citizens and foreign residents will be allowed to enter but must show proof of a negative coronavirus test 72 hours before departing for Japan and must quarantine for two weeks after arrival, the government said in an emailed statement.

The news came the same day Japan confirmed two more people to have been infected with the new variant, following its first cases of the strain detected in five people the previous day.

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The two, who are hospitalized in Tokyo, are a man in his 30s who returned to Japan from Britain on Dec. 16 and a woman in her 20s with no history of visiting the country, according to the health ministry. The woman is one of his family members, according to sources familiar with the matter.

On Friday, the government said the five people — four males and one female all aged under 70 — had been confirmed as infected with the new variant following their arrival from Britain.

Japan confirmed 3,878 coronavirus cases Saturday, a new record daily tally, as Tokyo and several other areas continued to report the highest numbers of infections as the year-end and New Year holidays commence across the country.

In Tokyo, the daily count reached 949, surpassing 900 for the first time, while daily infection record were set in Miyagi, Tochigi, Shiga and Kyoto prefectures.

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The nationwide death toll linked to the virus also rose by 47 to 3,247. According to the health ministry, the number of COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms increased by 10 from the previous day to 654, also a record high.

The following is the gist of the government policy to suspend new entry into Japan by nonresident foreign nationals from all countries and regions as a precautionary step against the new, potentially more transmissible coronavirus variant.

  • Japan will suspend new entry of nonresident foreign nationals from midnight Sunday to the end of January and stop the visa issuance on Monday.
  • All people coming from countries and territories where the new variant has been confirmed between Wednesday and the end of January will be required to submit certificates with negative test results within 72 hours of departure and tested upon arrival in Japan.
  • Foreign nationals who have already obtained visas will be allowed to enter Japan from Monday, except for those who were in Britain or South Africa within 14 days of applying for an entry permit.
  • Japan will continue allowing entry to specially designated people, including businesspeople from 10 countries and Taiwan under an already agreed program.


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