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Japan suspends foreign visitors from entering as Omicron variant spreads

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Japan is suspending foreign visitors from entering as the new Covid-19 Omicron variant spreads throughout the country. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida says the measure will take effect tomorrow.

“We are taking the step as an emergency precaution to prevent a worst-case scenario in Japan.”

The move means the country will backstep in restoring its border controls that eased earlier this month for short-term business visitors, workers, and foreign students. Now, it seems they are not allowed to enter with the new regulations.

South African researchers identified the new Omicron variant just days ago, but not much is known about it yet. But countries are rushing to impose new mandates over the fear of the variant being the worst one yet. Many scientists are saying the variant is highly-mutated, and other countries such as Israel are rushing to stop visitors from entering.

Israel is also imposing a mandatory quarantine on returning citizens in light of the new variant. Morocco is also suspending all incoming flights over the next 2 weeks, starting today.

But the World Health Organisation says it will only have a limited effect if borders are closed, as many are already reporting that they have found the variant in Covid infections inside their countries.

Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health in the United States, says there is no data yet that suggests the new variant causes more serious illness than previous Covid-19 variants.

“I do think it’s more contagious when you look at how rapidly it spread through multiple districts in South Africa. It has the earmarks therefore of being particularly likely to spread from one person to another. … What we don’t know is whether it can compete with delta.”

Anthony Fauci, the U.S. top infection expert says it will take around 2 more weeks to have more information regarding the new variants’ transmissibility and severity. The U.S. is planning to ban travel from South Africa and 7 other southern African countries starting today.

But South Africa is not happy about the bans, saying it is punishing the country for its advanced genomic sequencing and its ability to detect new variants of the Covid virus quicker.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

 

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    Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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