Amid a “strong feeling of unease” over COVID variants, Japan extends a quarantine for some countries.
The Japanese government announced Tuesday that a quarantine period for visitors from India and other South Asian countries would be extended, citing a “serious feeling of unease” about coronavirus variants.
Within two weeks of arrival in Japan, travelers who have visited India, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, or Sri Lanka will be required to quarantine for ten days in a specified facility. Previously, travelers were only supposed to quarantine for six days.
Travelers would be screened three times for the virus during that period, according to Kyodo News. The government also announced that travelers who have visited Kazakhstan or Tunisia would be subjected to a new three-day quarantine, with a coronavirus screening on the final day.
The quarantine orders would primarily affect Japanese residents, as the country has already taken steps to prohibit foreign nationals, including those with resident status, from entering the country unless there are exceptional circumstances.
According to Kyodo News, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said Tuesday, “There is a heavy feeling of unease among the Japanese citizens about coronavirus variants, so we have agreed to tighten border controls to protect their health and lives.”
The announcement comes as Japan experiences its fourth and most severe coronavirus outbreak. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga proclaimed a state of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Hokkaido, Aichi, Hyogo, Okayama, and Fukoka prefectures in late April. Restaurants and bars in those areas are also required to close at 8 p.m. and are not permitted to serve alcohol or have karaoke.
As the number of cases of the virus grows, the country is considering extending the emergency declaration, which was due to expire on May 31, until June 20.
Hospitals have been hit the hardest in Osaka, the country’s second largest city, with intensive care units exceeding capacity and medical staff warning that the systems are on the verge of collapsing.
Yuji Tohda, director of Kindai University Hospital, told Reuters, “Simply put, this is a failure of the medical system.”
While daily case counts in Japan have been low by global standards, with an average of about 4,800 new cases per day, the country has lagged behind in coronavirus vaccinations and has recently registered a rise in virus variants. Just about 5% of Japanese people have had their first vaccination. This is a condensed version of the information.