After easing border control measures just a few weeks ago, Japan announced that the country will suspend all foreign visitors from entering the country from Nov. 30 onwards amid concerns over the new Omicron Covid-19 variant, Kyodo News reported.
Speaking to the media on Nov. 29, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the decision was made to "avoid the worst-case scenario", adding that "it is a temporary measure until information about the Omicron variant becomes clear".
According to Reuters, the 64-year-old said that he was ready to face all criticisms from people who say that his administration is being too cautious.
Returning Japanese citizens and foreign residents would also have to quarantine for two weeks in designated facilities, regardless of their vaccination status.
The politician did not mention how long the new measure would be in place.
Eased restrictions just a few weeks ago
Previously on Nov. 8, Japan reportedly eased its border control measures to allow foreign businesspeople, students and technical interns into the country, according to Kyodo News.
This was based on the condition that their host organisations would agree to keep track of their movement.
As of Nov. 28, 60 new cases have been reported. The country has so far reported a total of 1,726,479 cases, and is experiencing a drop in cases as compared to a few months back.
"A variant of concern"
Meanwhile, Japan's National Institute of Infectious Diseases has raised the alert on the Omicron variant to the highest level, The Japan Times reported.
Initially designated as "a variant of interest", the second-highest of its three-tiered alert level, the institute upgraded its classification to "a variant of concern" on Nov. 28.
Nine African countries already banned from entering Japan
Travellers from nine African countries -- Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe -- are already banned from entering Japan.
The Omicron Covid-19 variant was first reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO) from South Africa on Nov. 24, and the WHO has since declared that the variant is "of concern", according to the BBC.
Botswana, Israel, and Hong Kong have reportedly recorded cases of Omicron variant.
Additionally, Japan's Health Minister Shigeyuki Goto said a traveller from Namibia tested positive for Covid-19, but more tests are needed to determine if it was from the new variant, Reuters reported.
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