A few days before 2020 ended, Japan announced that it will be suspending new entries of non-resident foreign nationals from “most parts of the world” as a precaution against a new variant of the coronavirus.
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Even before the suspension of travel entry, Japan had already reported eight cases of the new strain of the virus which was first reported in the UK.
Japan Suspends Entry of Foreigners Due to New Virus Strain
The ban on entry by non-resident foreign nationals will continue until the end of January, NHK News reported.
Scientific analysis has revealed that the new strain of the infection has a higher rate of transmissibility (at least 70% faster than the original strain).
In line with this, Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide explained that the new measure on the travel of foreigners was “a proactive measure to protect the people of Japan.”
Under the new conditions, Japanese citizens and foreigners with Japanese resident permits returning from the countries where the new variant has been detected are asked to submit a negative virus test result within 72 hours of departure and also undergo a test upon arrival as of December 30 through the end of January.
There have been at least 20 countries reported to have been affected by the new virus strain.
However, Japanese authorities also said that the new rules do not apply to those ten Asian nations with which Tokyo has agreed to a special scheme to ease travel restrictions. China and South Korea are among those nations.
There has been a steady increase in the number of new infections in the country towards the end of 2020. It has, so far, reported a total of 223,000 cases, including 3,213 deaths due to Covid-19.