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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 28, 2021 - World

Japan to lift nationwide COVID-19 emergency restrictions

Photo: Mauro Ujetto/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Japanese government announced Tuesday that the country's coronavirus state of emergency will end this week.

State of play: Japanese economic minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said "[m]easures will be gradually eased out to prevent early re-infection." Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said restrictions will end to allow people "to resume daily lives," adding that vaccination efforts will continue to prepare for a future virus resurgence, per AP.

What we can learn from D.C.'s breakthrough data

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

When Columbia Heights resident Sarah Nesbit, 25, lost her sense of smell, she joined more than 4,000 D.C. residents who have contracted COVID-19 despite being vaccinated.

Driving the news: D.C.'s publicly reported data on breakthrough cases offers a unique window into how the pandemic continues to impact vaccinated people, Axios' Chelsea Cirruzzo reports.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenge to affirmative action at Harvard, UNC

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a pair of cases challenging the consideration of race in the college admissions processes.

Why it matters: The conservative high court's ruling could determine the future of affirmative action in higher education.