Japan halts entry of foreigners to 'protect' citizens amid fear of new virus strain

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Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga

Tokyo [Japan], December 28 (ANI/Sputnik): Japan imposed new COVID-19 response measures that include a ban on entrance for non-resident foreigners from most countries until the end of January to "protect" citizens amid the spread of a new and more transmissible coronavirus variant, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Monday.

"These are proactive measures to protect the lives of the country's citizens," Suga told reporters.

Japanese citizens and foreign residents arriving in Japan from countries where the new variant, firstly identified in the United Kingdom, is present will have to provide a negative test on COVID-19 obtained within 72 hours before departure and take another test upon arrival.

At the same time, businesspeople and Japanese students residing in 10 countries in Asia, including South Korea and China, will not be affected by the new restrictions.

Japan has already suspended entrance from the UK and South Africa over two separate coronavirus strains. The variant that is circulating in the UK has already spread to over 20 countries including Japan, which has registered eight such cases.

The new restrictive measures are introduced amid a surge in daily-registered COVID-19 cases in Japan. The country is confirming nearly 4,000 cases a day on average in late December, up from some 2,000-2,500 at the beginning of the month. (ANI/Sputnik)