Japan to close its borders to tourists to prevent Omicron spread 8 months ago

Japan to close its borders to tourists to prevent Omicron spread

Returning Japanese residents will have to quarantine in designated facilities.

Japan will close its borders to international tourists amid concerns over the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, RTÉ reports.

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At a press conference, the country's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said: "In order to avoid a worst-case scenario and as an emergency precautionary measure, Japan will first ban the entry to foreigners into the country from midnight on 30 November."

Japanese residents returning from abroad will have to quarantine in designated facilities.

The East Asian country has not detected any cases of the Omicron variant as of yet.

Japan isn't the only country that is enforcing a strict border policy to curb the spread of the new variant. Israel has also banned the entry of foreign nationals. Similarly, returning Israelis must quarantine on arrival.

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Prime Minister Naftali Bennett described the decision to close borders as "not an easy step", but a "temporary" and "necessary" one.

As well as barring the entry of foreigners, Israel has approved phone monitoring technology for contact tracing purposes, the use of which has been criticised by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. The group described the measure as a "blatant disregard for the rule of law".

A number of studies are currently underway to determine the severity of the Omicron variant, which was first reported to the World Health Organisation from South Africa on 24 November.

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Today, NPHET will meet with the leaders of the coalition to discuss the Covid-19 situation in Ireland, as well as the new variant.

Last night, the Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan acknowledged that while there is focus on Omicron, infection rates from the Delta variant are still impacting Ireland.

Dr Holohan said: "We all know the actions to prevent the spread of Covid-19 - good hand hygiene, wearing a face covering, meeting others outdoors where possible and, when indoors, opening windows and ensuring good ventilation, keeping your distance and, of course, coming forward for vaccination and booster dose when eligible."