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Japan extends strict border measures as COVID cases soar

TOKYO (AFP) – Japan will extend measures barring almost all new foreign arrivals until the end of February and reopen mass-vaccination centres as it battles an Omicron-fuelled coronavirus surge, the government said yesterday.

“We will keep the current border control policy until the end of February while taking necessary measures from a humanitarian viewpoint and considering the national interest,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters.

Local media said there would be some new exemptions for members of Japanese families as well as students studying in Japan but there were no immediate details from officials.

The government will also re-open large-scale vaccination centres run by the Self-Defence Forces, and ask local governments to re-open their own mass-inoculation sites to accelerate booster shots, Kishida said.

Japan has imposed strict border-control measures, such as quarantine and frequent testing, on those entering the country from abroad.

But despite those efforts, the Omicron variant has been circulating locally and Japan is seeing a sharp rise in virus cases.

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