Japan stops taking new reservations for all flights

(AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

According to AP, Japan has asked international airlines to stop taking new reservations for all flights arriving in Japan until the end of December as the country further tightens its border controls against a new coronavirus variant, the transportation ministry said Wednesday.

It said the request is an emergency precaution amid growing concern over the spread of the new omicron variant.

Those who have already made reservations are not affected, although flights may be canceled if there are insufficient passengers, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism said. Transit passengers are also unaffected, it said. Japan is a major transit hub for flights to and from Asia.

The move comes as Japan confirmed a second case of the omicron variant in a person who arrived from Peru via Doha, one day after it reported its first case in a Namibian diplomat.

The second patient, who was fully vaccinated, tested positive for the coronavirus upon arrival on Sunday and was isolated while genetic sequencing was conducted. He was initially asymptomatic but has since developed a fever and sore throat, officials said.

All the remaining 114 passengers on the flight tested negative and are being monitored by health authorities, most of them at a government-designated facility.

Japan banned all foreign visitors starting Tuesday. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the step is an emergency precaution against the new variant. The ban tentatively extends through the end of the year. The government is also requiring Japanese citizens arriving in the country to quarantine for up to 14 days.

The World Health Organization warned Monday that the global risk from the omicron variant is “very high” based on early evidence, saying it could lead to surges with “severe consequences.”


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