Japan on Friday began requiring COVID-19 tests for all travelers arriving from China as an emergency measure against the country’s rising infection numbers and record deaths.
On the eve, Japan reported a record 420 coronavirus deaths, breaking the previous record of 415 deaths reported on Wednesday, according to the health ministry.
The death toll is higher than daily reports at the peak of the previous outbreak in August, when they topped 300. Experts said the latest increase is unclear but may be related to chronic disease deaths in elderly patients.
Japan tightened its border measures on Friday, mandating a pre-antigen test for all people arriving from China suspected of being infected. Those testing positive will be quarantined for seven days at designated facilities and their samples will be used for genome analysis.
The measures were implemented ahead of the New Year holidays, during which many people travel and attend parties. Government officials said direct flights between China and Japan would be limited to four Japanese airports for now.
A few months ago, Japan stopped requesting COVID-19 tests for people arriving in the nation who had had at least three doses of the vaccine, following a cautious relaxation of measures imposed by the pandemic. had closed its borders to foreign countries. Tourist for two years. Aside from mask-wearing and testing recommendations, this year’s holiday season will be the first without virus restrictions.
Currently, Japan is reporting about 200,000 cases per day.
In a meeting held a few days ago, experts warned that the rapid spread of influenza this winter also has the potential to put a strain on medical systems.
China recently lifted anti-virus controls that isolated the country for nearly three years and this week announced plans to re-issuance passports and visas for foreign travel. This could send many Chinese abroad for the Lunar New Year holiday in January, raising concerns about the possible spread of the virus.
India, Italy, South Korea and Taiwan have also responded to the Chinese wave of infections by requiring virus tests for visitors to China. The United States announced on Wednesday that it would require testing of all travelers arriving from China starting January 5.
Associated Press writer Hyung-Jin Kim in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report.