Japan to tighten entry from Britain over new coronavirus strain – Nationwide
Japan has decided to tighten border controls on arrivals from Britain as it seeks to prevent the spread of a new variant of the coronavirus detected in the European country, the government said. Starting on the 24th of December, Japan will temporarily ban new arrivals of foreign nationals coming for purposes such as business or study, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said. Existing foreign residents, however, will still be allowed to enter. Kato also said Japanese nationals arriving from Britain from Sunday will be required to take virus tests within 72 hours before departure and submit the results upon arrival.
Japan’s move comes as countries around the world impose restrictions on travel from Britain following the spread of the strain, which is believed to be more transmissible and to have caused a spike in infections in London and southeast England. Also, from the 24th of December, the government will suspend an exemption from 14-day quarantine for Japanese nationals and foreign residents returning from short-term business trips of no longer than seven days to Britain.
Foreign residents of Japan, who already have to undergo COVID-19 testing as a condition of entry from most countries including Britain, will be asked to download a tracing app for COVID-19 infections and retain their location data after entering Japan. Tourist visits from Britain are already barred. The tightening of controls came as the government had been slowly reopening its borders as it seeks to help resumption of economic activities.
Pfizer files request for COVID-19 vaccine approval in Japan – Nationwide
U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc requested Japan’s health ministry approve its novel coronavirus vaccine, making it the first drug maker to file such a request in the country. If approved, vaccinations could begin in Japan as early as March, government officials said. Japan has already agreed with Pfizer to receive a supply of 120 million doses in the first half of next year, enough for 60 million people, or roughly half of the population.
The company is seeking fast-track approval without having to conduct large-scale trials on the basis that the vaccine has been approved in other countries. It has already conducted clinical trials involving 160 people in Japan, aiming to report the results to authorities by February. The government plans to ask municipalities to prepare venues and medical institutions to conduct vaccinations and make systems available for accepting reservations.
The United States and Britain have already begun administering the coronavirus vaccine jointly developed by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech SE, while Singapore and some other countries are expected to follow suit. But concerns remain over its safety as U.S. authorities said that a health care worker in Alaska suffered a serious allergic reaction to the vaccine. Similar allergic reactions from two health care workers have also been reported in Britain. Earlier in the month, Japan’s parliament enacted a law to cover the costs for residents to be vaccinated, with a recent resurgence in infections demonstrating the importance of the inoculations.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is projected to be delivered in batches of 1,000 doses but they need to be stored at minus 75 C or lower and administered within approximately 10 days.
No. of foreign visitors to Japan in November more than doubles October figure – Nationwide
The number of foreign visitors to Japan more than doubled in November from a month ago as the country eased coronavirus-related travel restrictions during the month, government data showed. Total foreign arrivals rose to 56,700 in November from 27,400 in October, although that was a 98% drop from a year earlier, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization. The government last month partially eased travel restrictions from countries including China, South Korea and Vietnam, but the measure only allows essential travellers to enter the country.