Tokyo battling 3rd Covid-19 wave of 'unprecedented magnitude': Tokyo governor

Japan has banned the entry of foreign citizens in the wake of the discovery of the new UK variant.

Kayla Wong | December 31, 2020, 12:44 PM

Japan's capital city of Tokyo is now battling a third surge of Covid-19 infections of an "unprecedented magnitude", Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike said on Wednesday, Dec. 30.

Asked people to stay home

"We are in a very severe and crucial phase," Koike said at a press conference, Kyodo News reported.

"It is no surprise that an explosion of infections could occur at any time."

Tokyo reported 944 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, just slightly under Saturday's record of 949 infections.

Medical experts warned that unless the outbreak is curbed, Tokyo could soon see over 1,000 new cases in a day, Reuters reported.

Cautioning people to stay at home as much as possible during the New Year holiday, she added: "Please prioritise life over fun."

Besides facing a huge wave of infections, the city is already expecting more cold weather in the winter ahead, and faces the challenge of trying to contain highly contagious Covid-19 strains from both the United Kingdom and South Africa, already detected in Japan.

Koike stressed the urgency of the situation, saying: "The number of cases could explode at any time. Any one of us could become infected at any time... If we do not stamp this out now, we will be facing a much worse situation."

New B117 strain detected in multiple countries

Japan announced on Wednesday, Dec. 23, that it would ban the entry of non-resident foreigners due to the emergence of the new B117 variant, detected in the UK and South Africa, that is said to be 70 per cent more transmissible than the strain from China.

Japan reported its first case of the new variant on Friday, Dec. 25.

Japan has previously allowed foreign students or businessmen planning long-term stays to enter the country since October, according to Nikkei Asia.

The ban, which came into effect on Monday, Dec. 28, would suspend the issuance of these visas.

The new strain has already been detected in multiple countries and regions, including Taiwan, Singapore, India, the United States, the Netherlands, Denmark, Australia and Germany.

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