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Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speaking during a press conference in Tokyo on Dec. 25. Photo: Nicolas Datiche/Pool/Getty Images

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

Go deeper

Sep 15, 2021 - Health

1 in 500 Americans has died of COVID-19

Expand chart
Data: CDC and U.S. Census Bureau; Table: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The U.S. has reached a grim pandemic milestone: More than 1 in 500 Americans has died of COVID-19, according to the latest available data.

Why it matters: The rising death toll highlights the continued effects of the Delta variant and the ongoing struggle to get Americans vaccinated.

By the numbers: The total number of COVID-19 deaths recorded in the United States is 665,496 as of 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday, according to reporting by Johns Hopkins University.

  • 30.1% of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. involved individuals ages 85 and older as of Wednesday, despite only making up 2% of cases and an equal portion of the population.
4 mins ago - World

Sudanese government says it put down coup attempt

Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok (L) and Sovereign Council Chief Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. Photo: Ashraf Shazly/AFP via Getty

The Sudanese government announced on Tuesday morning that its military and security services had foiled an attempted coup from within the country’s armed forces.

Why it matters: The apparent coup attempt comes with Sudan’s transitional government — in which power is shared between civilians and generals — facing crises on several fronts two years after dictator Omar al-Bashir was toppled in a popular uprising.

30 mins ago - Health

Johnson & Johnson says booster shot increases efficacy of COVID vaccine

Syringes and a vial of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in French Polynesia on Sept. 8. Photo: Jerome Brouillet/AFP via Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson said in a press release Tuesday a global study showed that the protection offered by its coronavirus vaccine was strengthened by a booster shot.

Why it matters: While J&J has not formally applied for authorization to offer booster shots to the general public, it said it has shared the results of the study with the Food and Drug Administration and plans to share it with the World Health Organization and other health regulators.