Tokyo, Dec 27 (efe-epa).- Japan has banned the entry of all foreign travelers into the country to prevent the outbreak of the new and rapidly-spreading strain of the coronavirus.
The ban, announced by the government late Saturday, will be effective from Monday until the January end.
However, the government has exempted Japanese citizens and residents from the ban.
Japan already prohibited the entry of travelers from more than 150 countries.
However, since October, it has allowed the arrival of foreigners with the long-term student or business visas.
The Japanese authorities have also decided to cancel the issuance of new long-term visas.
People who had obtained these residence permits before the new restrictions would be allowed entry into the country if they are not traveling from the United Kingdom or South Africa, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The new variant of the coronavirus is believed to have originated in the UK and is potentially more transmissible.
Since it was first detected, more than 40 countries have restricted travel from the UK. Many countries have also banned travelers from other countries that have also documented cases with the variant.
The Japanese government has also decided to allow the entry of business travelers for short stays from a dozen Asian countries with which Japan has signed bilateral agreements to relax restrictions, including China and South Korea.
Japanese citizens and residents in foreign countries can return to the country from abroad but they must follow the procedures and undergo a 14-day quarantine and a double test for the coronavirus if they are traveling from countries where the new strain has been detected.
The Japanese Ministry of Health confirmed seven infections in the country of this variant in recent days.
These include five people with recent travel history to the UK, the pilot of a flight from Britain, and a relative who would have been infected by him.
The pilot, in his 30s and who is hospitalized, returned from London on Dec.16. The authorities had exempted him from quarantine due to his work.
Japanese authorities are investigating whether it could have caused other domestic infections.
Japan has registered a new record number of daily infections on Saturday, 3,881, most of them in the Tokyo region (949).
The total number of infections has now surpassed 218,400, with 3,234 deaths, according to the data. EFE-EPA