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Japan tests all arrivals to China for COVID amid rising cases

TOKYO (AP) — Japan on Friday began requiring COVID-19 tests for all passengers arriving from China as an emergency measure against surging infections there and as Japan faces a surge the number of cases and record deaths at home.

Japan reported a record 420 new coronavirus deaths on Thursday, a day after hitting a previous single-day high of 415 deaths, according to the health ministry.

The figures are higher than daily deaths at the height of a previous wave in August, when they exceeded 300. Experts say the reason for the latest increase is unclear but could be linked to deaths from the coronavirus. worsening of chronic diseases in elderly patients.

Japan tightened its border measures on Friday, making the antigen test already performed on entrants suspected of having COVID-19 mandatory for all people arriving from mainland China. Those who test positive will be quarantined for up to seven days in designated facilities and their samples will be used for genome analysis.

The measurements began before the New Year holidays marked by travel and parties. Direct flights between China and Japan will be limited to four major Japanese airports for now, government officials said.

Earlier this year, Japan stopped requiring COVID-19 tests for entrants who have had at least three injections – part of the country’s cautious easing of measures after virtually closing its borders to foreign tourists for about two years. This year’s holiday season is the first without virus restrictions other than recommendations for mask wearing and testing.

The country is now reporting about 200,000 known daily cases.

At a meeting earlier this week, experts warned that the rapid spread of flu this winter could also increase pressure on medical systems.

China recently rolled back its virus checks that kept the country in lockdown for nearly three years and this week announced plans to reissue passports and visas for overseas travel. This could send many Chinese overseas for the Lunar New Year holiday in January, raising concerns about the possible spread of the virus.

India, Italy, South Korea and Taiwan have also responded to the wave of Chinese infections by requiring virus testing for visitors from China. The United States said on Wednesday it would require testing for all travelers from China starting Jan. 5.

South Korea announced on Friday that it will also require travelers from China to submit negative PCR test results within 48 hours or rapid antigen tests within 24 hours of departure, starting Jan. 5. .

Starting Monday, all visitors from China will also be required to take PCR tests within a day of arriving in South Korea, said Jee Youngmee, commissioner of Korea’s Disease Control and Prevention Agency. South Korea will also limit the number of flights from China and restrict short-term visas for Chinese nationals except those visiting for diplomatic, essential business or humanitarian reasons, at least until the end of the year. february.

China had stopped issuing visas to foreigners and passports to its own people at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020.


Associated Press writer Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report.


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