Japan bans foreign tourists from blocking the Omicron variant

Japan will ban foreign visitors following the emergence of the Omicron variant, one of the strongest responses to the new strain of coronavirus from a large country.

Japan’s prime minister, Fumio Kishida, said on Monday that the decision would take effect at midnight Tuesday, reversing a three-week easing of rules.

“We are dealing with the Omicron variant with a strong sense of crisis,” Kishida told reporters. “It appears to be spreading around the world so we continue to look at further strengthening our border controls.”

The ban applies to students, interns and foreign workers coming to Japan, and those traveling on short-term business trips. Under previous measures, vaccinated business travelers can visit Japan after undergoing a quarantine for a few days.

Returning Japanese citizens and foreign residents from South AfricaKishida added that neighboring countries and other countries with cases of Omicron will have to be isolated at government-controlled facilities.

Visitors returning from southern Africa will have to stay for 10 days in a government hotel; those from Israel, Great Britain, the Netherlands and Italy will have to spend six days; and those from Germany, Hong Kong and some other countries will have to spend three days in government facilities. In all cases, travelers will then have to self-quarantine at home to reach a total of two weeks.

Japan’s policy change entails a rivalry between nations to prevent the spread of the variant, first identified in southern Africa. Israel and Morocco have previously announced that they will close their borders to foreign visitors, and several countries including the US and UK as well as the EU have imposed travel and quarantine controls on the country. those who come.

Cyril Ramaphosa, the president of South Africa, has said that the travel bans are “completely unreasonable”, adding that there is no scientific reason for the restrictions. The measures are “discriminatory”, he added, arguing that the variation should instead highlight that rich countries must improve access to vaccination in Africa.

The Omicron variant has caused alarm among health professionals because of its rate of spread and genetic makeup, which helps the virus evade the body’s immune system.

The World Health Organization has labeled Omicron a “variant of concern” but it also calls for a equilibrium reaction, urges countries that report this strain to go unpunished.

The discovery of the variant hit the stock market, with Global stocks and oil prices fall the most in a year last week.

Japan’s decision to ban foreign visitors sent shares in Tokyo lower, where they traded higher on expectations of a gradual return of tourists. Topix was down 1.8% in afternoon trading, led by a sharp drop in transportation companies.

“Japan has only just begun to open its doors to short-term visitors and this seems like a step backwards,” said Takeo Kamai, head of enforcement services at CLSA. “There is a lot of uncertainty and the Tokyo market always trades cautiously at such a time.”

Shares across Asia-Pacific fell, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index down 0.9%, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 down 0.5% and South Korea’s Kospi down 0.9%.

Airlines in the region were particularly hard hit, with Qantas down 6.2 per cent, Malaysia’s AirAsia down 6.7 per cent and Cathay Pacific down nearly 5 per cent.

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