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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

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
18 hours ago - Sports

2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

10 months ago, the Tokyo Olympics were postponed. Now, less than six months ahead of their new start date, the dreaded word is being murmured: "canceled."

Driving the news: The Japanese government has privately concluded that the Games will have to be called off, The Times reports (subscription), citing an unnamed senior government source.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.
Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.