Countries close borders to foreigners amid Omicron fears — Analysis

Japan will immediately close its borders to all foreign nationals from Tuesday. This is the harshest response to Omicron’s emergence. Israel’s borders were closed Sunday night at midnight

Fumio Kishida (Prime Minister) announced that Japan’s border would be shut down starting Tuesday. “This is a preventive, emergency measure to avoid a worst-case scenario,” Kishida told reporters at the Prime Minister’s office.  

All foreign nationals are subject to the measures, except those who reside in Japan. “These are temporary, exceptional measures that we are taking for safety’s sake until there is clearer information about the Omicron variant,”Kishida spoke to reporters. 

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Omicron variant poses ‘very high’ global risk – WHO

Japan took swift action to stop the Omicron variant reaching its shores. According to other international decisions, the Japanese government will increase border control for those arriving from six African countries. 

Japan does not yet have any confirmed cases of this new strain, believed to be even more contagious. “I’m prepared to bear all criticism from those saying the Kishida administration is being too cautious,” the prime minister stated. 

To rebuild its economy, Japan recently lifted quarantine restrictions on international business travel. 

Covid-19 infection rates have fallen dramatically in Japan in recent months following an increase in summer fevers caused by contagious Delta variant, which led to hospitals being stretched to the limit. 

Japan’s move follows on from Israel, which said on Saturday that it would ban all foreign nationals from entering the country after two cases of the strain were found. On Sunday, midnight was the official time for closing of the border.  

Morocco follows in the footsteps of Morocco. “to protect the health of Moroccan citizens.”This measure is effective for two weeks at 11:59pm (2259 GMT Monday).  

Australia said that it is reviewing plans to reopen its borders to skilled migrants, students starting December 1. This was after the discovery of two Omicron cases among returning travelers. Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Australia, said that it was premature to reintroduce a complete quarantine for all foreign travellers.  

On Friday, the World Health Organization named the new variant of concern ‘Omicron’ after the strain, which first emerged in southern Africa, was said to be spreading fast. Researchers have discovered that the pathogen is susceptible to a variety of worrying mutations, which could reduce the effectiveness of vaccines or evade natural immunity. 

Reports from South Africa suggest that the strain may not be as severe or virulent to the host, as has been suggested by some reports. 

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