Amid omicron scare, Japan imposes travel curbs on 3 more countries: Reports

  • Japan has already imposed a 10-day mandatory quarantine requirement at a government-specified facility for travellers from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Namibia and Eswatini.
Travelers queue at a check-in counter at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on November 27, 2021, after several countries banned flights from South Africa following the discovery of a new Covid-19 variant Omicron. (Photo by Phill Magakoe / AFP)
Travelers queue at a check-in counter at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on November 27, 2021, after several countries banned flights from South Africa following the discovery of a new Covid-19 variant Omicron. (Photo by Phill Magakoe / AFP)
Published on Nov 27, 2021 07:34 PM IST
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Written by Sharangee Dutta | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

With the identification of the new Covid-19 variant, omicron, in Botswana in southern Africa, Japan has added three more countries to its list of travel restrictions. The announcement was made by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Saturday, who told reporters that his government wants to ensure “border control measures” are strictly in place, according to Nikkei Asia.

In the latest additions, travellers from Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia will have to undergo mandatory quarantine at a government-designated accommodation for 10 days. The country has already imposed tighter entry norms for individuals arriving from Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia, Eswatini, and Zimbabwe. Passengers from these nations will also have to take Covid-19 tests on their third, sixth and 10th day of mandatory quarantine.

This comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) on Saturday urged Southeast Asian countries not to let their “guards down” and increase surveillance, boost health and social measures, and intensify vaccination coverage as the world grapples to combat the omicron Covid-19 variant.

In a statement, WHO Southeast Asia director Poonam Khetrapal Singh said that countries in the region must gauge the risk of import of omicron variant via international travel and adopt measures accordingly to tackle it.

“The more Covid-19 circulates, the more opportunities the virus will have to change and mutate, and the pandemic will last longer,” she added in the statement.

Also Read | Omicron Covid variant: What do we know about risks, symptoms, tests

She stated that till now 31 per cent of the southeast Asian region’s population is fully vaccinated against coronavirus, while 21 per cent has been partially jabbed. “Nearly 48 per cent of about a billion people are yet to receive even a single dose of the Covid-19 vaccine,” Singh noted.

Japan is among a host of nations, which have imposed travel restrictions or bans on travellers from African nations owing to fear over the omicron Covid-19 variant. The B.1.1.529 variant has been listed by the WHO under its ‘variant of concern’ category, causing paranoia in the global sphere. Although the global health agency said that studies are still being done on the new Covid-19 variant to understand it, scientists have pointed out that it can undergo nearly 30 mutations in the coronavirus protein that determines its transmissibility among people.

As far as India is concerned, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high-level review meeting on Saturday where discussions pertaining to the country’s Covid-19 situation amid the omicron threat were held for two hours. Multiple states, including Maharashtra, Uttarakhand and Delhi, among others, have announced flight bans, mandatory RT-PCR tests and vaccination proof for travellers coming from ‘at-risk’ countries.

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