Japan halts foreign arrivals after reporting first case of new coronavirus variant
Japan announced Saturday that it will temporarily ban non-resident foreign nationals from entering the country starting on Dec. 28 after it discovered its first case of a new variant of the coronavirus that may be more transmissible, Reuters reports.
Why it matters: The new variant, found in passengers arriving from Britain on Friday, has set off concern in the country as Tokyo struggles with a surge in cases heading into New Year holidays.
By the numbers: Tokyo reported 949 cases on Saturday, a record for the capital, according to Reuters.
- Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday urged people to stay home and avoid social gatherings.
Of note: There is thus far no evidence that the new variant is more deadly — only that it appears more transmissible. There is also no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines will be less effective against the new variant.
The big picture: At least 31 countries have banned travel from the United Kingdom after the British government warned that a new variant of the coronavirus could be up to 70% more transmissible.
- The new variant has been detected in Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands, according to the BBC.
Go deeper: BioNTech says it could produce vaccine for COVID-19 variant in 6 weeks if needed