As cases of a new coronavirus variant are confirmed around the world, Japan announced on Monday that it will suspend entry of all foreign visitors, joining an increasing number of countries that are tightening their borders as fear spreads of yet another extension of pandemic suffering.
Japan, which has yet to detect any cases of the recently identified Omicron variant, reimposed border controls that it eased earlier this month for short-term business visitors, foreign students and workers. Despite the global worry, however, scientists cautioned that it's still unclear whether Omicron is more dangerous than other versions of a virus that has killed more than five million people. “We are taking the step as an emergency precaution to prevent a worst-case scenario in Japan,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said of the measure that begins today. Japan has kept its border closed to foreign tourists from all nations.
Kishida urged people to continue wearing masks and pursuing other basic anti-virus measures until further details of the new omicron variant are known. Kishida, whose predecessor lost his job in part because of disappointment over his handling of the virus, was not alone in choosing an aggressive approach until details of what omicron can do emerge.
Israel decided to bar entry to foreigners, and Morocco said it would suspend all incoming flights for two weeks starting Monday -- among the most drastic of the growing raft of travel curbs being imposed by nations around the world as they scrambled to slow the variant's spread.
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