Coronavirus: Japan bars new foreign visitors amid omicron variant concerns

TOKYO — Another country is barring new international visitors amid concerns about a new coronavirus variant, omicron.

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According to The Associated Press, Japan said Monday that it is suspending entry of foreign visitors beginning Tuesday. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called the move “an emergency precaution to prevent a worst-case scenario,” the AP reported.

The news came a day after Morocco’s foreign ministry tweeted that it is temporarily suspending incoming international flights. On Friday, the United States also said it would restrict travel from South Africa, where the “variant of concern” was discovered, as well as Botswana, Zimbabwe, Eswatini, Mozambique, Malawi, Namibia and Lesotho, The New York Times previously reported.

>> RELATED STORY: Morocco suspends incoming international flights amid omicron variant concerns

Although the new variant has been detected in several European countries, Canada, Australia, Israel and Hong Kong, no cases have been reported in the U.S., according to the AP. Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, however, told “Weekend Today” on Saturday that he “would not be surprised” if omicron was already circulating here.

On Sunday, Oxford University’s Our World in Data project reported that so far, 54.1% of people worldwide have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. About 79% of Japan’s residents have received at least one vaccine dose, compared with more than 69% in the U.S., according to the data.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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