Japan extends border controls due to spread of Omicron

Tokyo, Jan 11 (EFE).- Japan will keep its borders closed to non-resident foreigners until at least Feb. 28 due to the spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant, while accelerating the administration of booster shots.

The government announced new measures on Tuesday amid a surge of Covid-19 infections during the sixth wave of the virus and the spread of the Omicron variant.

Japan also plans to speed up the administration of booster doses, which have only been given to 0.6 percent of the population (43,699 doses) so far, according to the latest official data, compared to the 78.4 percent that have been administered two doses.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced that the government will reopen large-scale vaccination centers to administer a third dose to the elderly and speed up jabs for the rest of the population from March with the help of the country’s Self-Defense Forces.

Kishida added that, given the rapid spread of Omicron, Japan will expand vaccination to children below 12 years of age, which is still pending approval in the country.

Japan saw a drastic decrease in infections in October, which led to a partial opening of the country after maintaining strict border controls since the start of the pandemic.

It allowed the entry of business travelers, foreign workers and students for a short period of time from October until the detection of the Omicron variant on Nov. 30.

The border restrictions, which have been criticized by the World Health Organization (WHO), will remain in place until at least the end of February.

The archipelago recorded more than 8,000 daily infections over the weekend and has placed the Hiroshima, Yamaguchi and Okinawa prefectures on alert since then.

Okinawa saw a huge spike in infections and the spread of Omicron with several outbreaks among US troops stationed in the territory.

Due to the high number of infected healthcare workers in this southwestern prefecture, the government has ordered the Self-Defense Forces to send nurses to the area. EFE


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