Japan brings back virus restrictions over Omicron surge


People wearing face masks use an escalator at Shibuya district in Tokyo on Jan 19, 2022, as Japan's government approved new coronavirus restrictions on a large part of the country, including the capital to battle record infections fuelled by the Omicron variant. - AFP

TOKYO (AFP): Japan's government approved new coronavirus restrictions on a large part of the country, including Tokyo, on Wednesday (Jan 19) as it battles record infections fuelled by the Omicron variant.

The restrictions in 13 regions, which mainly target nightlife and are far less strict than a blanket lockdown, will be in place from Friday until mid-February.

The move allows each region to decide what specific measures to implement, with most places urging bars and restaurants to shorten opening hours or halt alcohol sales.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the government aimed to be "fully prepared" in the fight against the latest wave of Covid-19.

"We will not have excessive fear, and will work in close coordination with regional governments," he said as he announced the measures at a virus taskforce meeting.

"With scientific assessments from experts, the cooperation of medical workers and above all else, the cooperation of the Japanese public, we will overcome this situation."

The highly infectious Omicron variant is driving a resurgence in coronavirus cases in Japan, with daily nationwide infections topping 30,000 for the first time this week.

Tokyo also reported its highest ever number of new cases -- more than 7,000 -- on Wednesday.

Japan has still been less hard-hit than many countries, with around 18,400 deaths in the pandemic while avoiding strict lockdowns.

But government officials and experts are worried that rising infections could put pressure on the country's medical system.

Three Japanese regions are already under virus restrictions, after surges in cases linked to US military bases.

More than 78 per cent of Japan's population is fully vaccinated, but the programme began later than in some other developed countries.

So far, just 1.2 per cent of the population has received a booster shot.

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 1
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
Join our Telegram channel to get our Evening Alerts and breaking news highlights
   

Next In Aseanplus News

Wholesaler charged with exporting Pokka drinks worth over S$340k to N. Korea
MMEA foils bid to smuggle over RM1mil worth of drugs
Oil prices edge higher on tight supply, firmer demand expectations
Laos on alert for monkeypox among tourists
Xi Jinping speaks with UN's Bachelet during visit, defends China's rights progress
Myanmar reports 11 more Covid-19 infections
No proof of vote shaving, padding: Philippine polls panel
S.Korean Naver's robotics ambitions challenged by 5G on-the-ground realities
'I Love Banda' exhibit urges learning and renewal from Indonesia's violent colonial past
Cryptocurrency, digital token transfers in Thailand exempt from VAT

Others Also Read