Japan eyes 2-week quarantine of visitors from China, S. Korea

Japan eyes 2-week quarantine of visitors from China, S. Korea

Japan will adopt a two-week quarantine for visitors from China and South Korea and suspend visas already issued, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday, as the country seeks to bolster its defenses against the new coronavirus, Kyodo News Plus reports.

The government will also expand its entry ban to cover foreign visitors from parts of South Korea and Iran that have seen a surge in infections from the pneumonia-causing virus which originated in China, Abe told a government task force meeting.

From Monday to the end of March, visitors from the two countries will have to stay at designated facilities for two weeks to be checked for infections and refrain from using public transportation.

The updated entry ban, effective Friday, will target travelers from a wider area of South Korea's North Gyeongsang than now and from Qom Province in Iran. Both places have been severely hit by COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus.

In a bid to ensure an effective quarantine, Abe also requested that flights from China and South Korea use only two major airports -- Narita airport east of Tokyo and Kansai airport in Osaka Prefecture.

In a related move, the Foreign Ministry elevated its travel alert for the whole of South Korea, urging Japanese citizens not to visit the country. Previously, a heightened alert had only applied to areas surrounding Daegu, the city hit hardest by the virus.

The series of measures will limit travel from the Asian neighbors -- accounting for over 40 percent of all visitors to Japan in 2019 -- and pre-empt a surge in domestic cases ahead of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this summer.

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