Japan to tighten border controls on 6 African nations from Saturday

Japan will strengthen its border controls for all arrivals — Japanese and foreign national — from South Africa and five other African nations starting Saturday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said Friday.

People who have recently been to Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa or Zimbabwe will be required to spend 10 days in a government-designated facility upon their arrival — the longest in the nation’s quarantine category.

Matsuno told a news conference late Friday that with the possibility that the new variant is more infectious and may pose a threat to the efficacy of the vaccines, Japan is taking its “highest level of precautions.”

“We will act quickly if the situation worsens,” said Matsuno. “The key to crisis management is to prepare for the worst.”

Under Japan’s quarantine rules, travelers from hot spots need to quarantine at designated facilities — 10 days, six days or three days — depending on the COVID-19 situation there, with the remaining 14-day quarantine period at a place of their choosing. This means if a traveler quarantines for 10 days at a designated facility, he or she must quarantine for another four days at home or somewhere else. Before Friday, none of the countries were listed in the 10-day quarantine period at designated facilities. Those traveling from countries other than the six African nations listed may quarantine at home or a place of their choosing for the entire quarantine period.

On Thursday, Britain banned the entry of foreign nationals arriving from the six nations and temporarily suspended related flights.

While Japan had initially planned to ask travelers to undergo quarantine for six days, the government is now planning to introduce a 10-day isolation period, after a growing number of government officials urged a more stringent approach.

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