It was “essential” to take “flexible protection measures” at ports and airports
Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe yesterday ordered a two-week quarantine for all visitors from China and South Korea in response to the widening coronavirus crisis, and his government signalled that the Tokyo Olympics would go ahead as planned.
Abe’s measures, announced in a briefing with reporters, marked a public display of action after weeks of criticism that he was failing to tackle the outbreak head-on. They also came on the same day that Japan reported its biggest one-day increase in new cases of the virus.
Broadcaster NHK reported confirmed cases had risen to 1 036 nationwide as of yesterday, 36 more than the previous day. Another seven new infections were reported in the city of Nagoya in central Japan, Kyodo news said.
Plans for the Games to go ahead were unchanged, but a state visit to Japan by Chinese president Xi Jinping that was originally planned for early April was delayed following a decision by both Tokyo and Beijing.
Abe said it was “essential” to take “flexible protection measures” at ports and airports.
Under the measures, which will largely go into effect on Monday and last until the end of the month, those arriving from China and South Korea will be subject to a two-week quarantine at designated places. The government will also suspend existing visas and limit arrivals of visitors from the two countries to Narita and Kansai International airports, which serve the two major metropolitan areas of Tokyo and Osaka.
Starting tomorrow, the government will not allow entry to people who have been to certain areas with high infection rates in South Korea or Iran.
They will also be requested to refrain from using public transport.
Meanwhile, Abe’s Olympic minister, Seiko Hashimoto, said the Games would go ahead as planned for July.
“Cancellation or delay of the Games would be unacceptable for the athletes,” she said.
She had earlier stirred controversy by saying the contract with the IOC “could be interpreted as allowing a postponement” of the Games within 2020.
Japan’s western prefecture of Shiga reported its first coronavirus infection yesterday, a day after the announcement of a first case in the southern prefecture of Miyazaki.
National broadcaster NHK also reported new coronavirus infections in Kyoto, Sapporo and Niigata.
Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said Japan and China would arrange a better time for Xi to visit as they have agreed to prioritise the fight against the coronavirus. The delay in Xi’s visit will not affect Japan-China relations, he told a news conference.