(Bloomberg) -- Japan will close its borders to foreign visitors from Tuesday, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters, while experts around the world analyze the risks presented by the omicron variant.
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"These are unusual emergency measures that will be in place until we have a certain amount of information about omicron," Kishida said Monday. "We must be as cautious as possible about an unknown risk -- that is the way we are managing the government," he added.
He gave few details about the move, and did not specify whether the measures would apply to foreigners who already reside in Japan. Officials are set to provide more details later in the day.
Japanese citizens will be instructed to quarantine at a government-designated facility when arriving from countries where the variant has been found, Kishida said.
Broadcaster NTV said earlier Japan would ban new foreign businesspeople and students from entry. Foreign tourists are already banned from visiting.
Japan has seen a sharp fall in its infections. It recorded 61 new virus cases on Nov. 28, compared with figures over 25,000 daily in mid-August. No new deaths were reported.
While Japan's cases have dropped, the U.S and several other Group of Seven countries have seen daily totals on the rise, with the U.S. averaging about 84,000 cases a day over the past week.
The clampdown comes about three weeks after Japan began lifting its pandemic border restrictions, which were some of the strictest in the developed world. There are few new coronavirus cases now being reported in a country that's close to 80% fully vaccinated and where the use of masks is almost universal.
Japan Eases Many Covid-Era Border Restrictions as Cases Slump
"Japan has the highest percentage of vaccinated people in G-7 and the shortest period of time has elapsed since people got their second shot," Kishida added. "Our system for tackling the risk of omicron is stronger than that of other countries. So I want the people to deal with this calmly."
While the government has said there have been no omicron variant cases recorded in Japan, there are concerns that a person who arrived from Namibia may have been infected with the variant. Analysis is continuing, Kishida said.
(Updates throughout with comments from Prime Minister Kishida.)
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