Japan announced today (November 29) that it will be suspending entry for all foreign visitors due to the emergence of Omicron, a new Covid variant.
The measure will take effect Tuesday and last for about one month.
With this, Japan will restore border controls that were eased on November 8 for short-term business visitors, foreign students and workers.
According to Kyodo News, prime minister Fumio Kishida said Monday that closing the border is a “temporary measure until information about the Omicron variant becomes clear,” adding that “when dealing with an unknown risk, it’s best to take every precaution”.
Japan is the second country after Israel to bar all entry to foreigners, while most countries around the world are scrambling to control flights and travellers hailing from South Africa.
In Asia-Pacific, governments of Indonesia, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Australia have tightened entry rules, while Singapore has deferred the opening of Vaccinated Travel Lanes with the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia scheduled for next week.
It is currently unclear if the new variant is more contagious than the others that have been identified.
In a Reuters report, a South African doctor who was one of the first to suspect a different Covid strain among patients said last week that symptoms of the Omicron variant in patients have so far been mild.