Japan barring foreigner visitors
Japan is barring foreign visitors from entering the country amid increased concerns over the new COVID-19 omicron variant.
In accordance with new restrictions that went into effect at midnight Monday, all noncitizens from outside countries are not allowed to enter the country, according to a statement from the U.S. Embassy in Japan.
The limitations reverse an earlier announcement that short-term business travelers and international students would be allowed to enter Japan, according to The New York Times.
Those entering Japan will be required to quarantine at home, a private residence or in a hotel for 14 days, according to the embassy, noting that previous plans to decrease the isolation period to three or 10 days “have been suspended.”
Japan’s borders have been closed to international tourists since the onset of the pandemic, the Times noted.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters that the restrictions are “temporary, exceptional measures” that are being put in place “for safety’s sake until there is clearer information about the Omicron variant.”
“I’m prepared to bear all criticism from those saying the Kishida administration is being too cautious,” he added, according to Reuters.
Israel is also prohibiting travel from foreign visitors, and Morocco has announced that all incoming flights will be halted for two weeks because of the omicron variant.
Japan has not yet detected any omicron COVID-19 cases.
On Friday, the country said it would increase border limitations on travelers entering the country from six African countries.
The omicron variant was first identified in South Africa but is already being detected in a number of countries.
While there is still much to learn about the strain, it is clear that it has a high number of mutations giving it a “transmissibility advantage,” according to Anthony Fauci, the United States’ top expert on infectious diseases.