TOKYO ( Associated Press) – Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced Tuesday that Japan will tighten border controls against COVID-19 and close to China starting Friday as a temporary emergency measure amid rising coronavirus infections in that country. All visitors will be required to test negative.
The announcement comes days after the World Health Organization (WHO) said it was concerned about rising reports of serious cases in China as the country largely abandoned its “zero-COVID” policy.
Quantitative antigen testing – which is already done on people trying to enter the country whom authorities suspect to have COVID-19 – will be mandatory for all people arriving from mainland China. Those testing positive will be quarantined for seven days at facilities designated by the Japanese authorities and their samples will be used for genome analysis. The measure takes effect on Friday, just as Japan prepares for the year-end and New Year holidays and expects a surge in infections.
Kishida pointed out that China’s lack of information and transparency on the infection makes it difficult to assess and determine security measures. He said there are huge discrepancies between information from federal and municipal officials and between government and private organizations.
“There is growing concern in Japan,” Kishida insisted. “We have decided to take a temporary special measure to respond to the situation.”
Japan’s new measure is aimed at “stopping the rapid increase in infections in this country” and is not intended to curb the global mobility of people, Kishida reiterated. Japan will remain flexible given developments in China, he said, including the suspension of a planned increase in flights between Japan and China “just to be safe.” Officials announced that direct flights between the two countries would be limited to four major Japanese airports for now.