Japan said on Monday it would close its borders to foreigners, joining Israel in taking the toughest measures against the new coronavirus variant Omicron.
Potentially more contagious than prior variants, Omicron, first identified in South Africa, has been found in Australia, Belgium, Botswana, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, and the Netherlands.
As a precaution to avert a worst-case scenario, Japan will close its borders to all foreigners from midnight on Tuesday, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said.
"Japan will first of all ban the entry of foreigners," he told reporters, adding that Japanese returning from specified nations would face quarantine in designated facilities.
While Japan has not yet found any Omicron infections, Health Minister Shigeyuki Goto said tests were being run to determine if the new variant had infected a traveler from Namibia who tested positive for the virus.
Israel's ban took effect from midnight on Sunday. It has also vowed to use counter-terrorism phone-tracking technology to combat the new variant.