Japan will ban foreign visitors after the Omicron variant emerged, in one of the strongest responses to the new coronavirus strain from a large country.
On Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the decision would go into effect at midnight on Tuesday, reversing a three-week easing of the rules.
“We are dealing with the alternative Omicron 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 control measures.”
The ban includes foreign students, interns, workers relocating to Japan, and business travelers on short trips. Under previous measures, vaccinated business travelers can visit Japan after being quarantined for no more than three days.
Japanese Nationals and Returning Foreign Residents from South AfricaKishida added that neighboring countries and other countries with Omicron cases will be forced to quarantine in government-controlled facilities.
Travelers returning from South Africa are required to spend 10 days in a government hotel; Those from Israel, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Italy will have to spend six days; Those from Germany, Hong Kong and a number of other countries will have to spend three days in a government facility. In all cases, travelers will then have to quarantine at home to reach a total of two weeks.
Japanese policy change follows a scramble between countries To contain the spread of the variant, which was first identified in South Africa. Israel and Morocco announced earlier that they would close their borders to foreign travelers, and a number of countries including the United States and the United Kingdom as well as the European Union have introduced travel controls and quarantine procedures for arrivals.
Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, said the travel ban was “completely unjustified‘, adding that there is no scientific justification for these restrictions. He added that the measures “discriminate,” noting that the alternative should instead highlight that rich countries should Improving access to vaccinations In Africa.
The Omicron variant has caused concern among health experts due to its rapid spread and genetic profile, which helps the virus Evading the body’s immune system.
The World Health Organization has described Omicron as a “worrying alternative” but has also called for a balanced responseHe urged countries that have reported this strain not to punish them.
The discovery of the variable has hit the stock markets, with Global stocks and oil prices are falling The largest number in a year last week.
Japan’s decision to block foreign access sent stocks lower in Tokyo, which were trading higher on expectations of a gradual return of tourists. Topix was down 1.8 percent in afternoon trading, led by sharp declines among carriers.
“Japan has just begun to open up to short-term visitors and this feels like a step backwards,” said Takeo Kami, Head of Execution Services at CLSA. “There is a lot of uncertainty and the Tokyo market will always trade conservatively at a time like this.”
Shares tumbled across the Asia-Pacific region, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng down 0.9 percent, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 down 0.5 percent, and South Korea’s Kospi down 0.9 percent.
Airlines across the region were particularly affected, with Qantas down as much as 6.2 percent, Malaysian Air Asia down 6.7 percent and Cathay Pacific down nearly 5 percent.