Starting Monday, Japan will ban entry of foreign nationals till the end of January. The decision was taken after the emergence of several cases of the new variant of COVID-19 in the country.

Tokyo’s metropolitan government confirmed two cases of people who had returned recently from the UK. Previously of Friday, five more international travelers were detected at some of Japan’s international airports. For now, only Japanese citizens and foreign residents will be allowed to enter the country subject to 14-day self-quarantining.

The emergence of a new variant of the Corona Virus in the UK in the early weeks of December, led to a nationwide lockdown being declared on December 19. According to a statement by the WHO, “A total of 1108 confirmed cases of a new variant virus, referred to as VUI – 202012/01, have been detected in the United Kingdom as of 13 December 2020. This variant, which includes a range of genetic changes, has spread predominantly in south-east England.” The statement added, “This new variant detected in the United Kingdom has several combinations of mutations, particularly in the S gene, and there are preliminary signs that the variant may be able to spread more easily between people. There is also preliminary information that the variant may affect the performance of some diagnostic tools; it is thus important to adapt testing to detect this variant. There is currently no indication of any change in disease severity, but this is also under investigation.”

So far, cases of the new variant have also been reported from Australia, Denmark and the Netherlands. Japan joins nearly 40 other countries in issuing a travel ban in wake of the emergence of the new strain of the virus. Some other countries that have instituted varying degrees of bans on the entry of international travelers include Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India and Italy.

Feature Image Source: CDC Image Library