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Japan to close borders to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 variant.

Image Credit: Philip Fong/AFP via Getty Images

On Saturday, Japanese authorities announced that as from Monday, borders will be closed, and most travellers will not be allowed to enter Japan, in an attempt to prevent the spread of the new United Kingdom (UK) coronavirus variant.

The ban of foreign travellers into the country is expected to last till the end of January. Only Japanese people and foreigners residing in Japan are allowed to return to Japan during the border closures.

The government explained that it took this decision, when they saw the rapid spread of this new contagious coronavirus variant, which was first detected in the United Kingdom. Japan has reported a total of seven people infected with the new COVID-19 strain. The last two individuals that were found to be infected with the new virus strain, were both young. One was a pilot in his 30s that returned to Japan from the UK on December 16, while the other was a woman in her 20s which is believed to have been infected by him, as she is his family member.

The new strain has also been identified in France, Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, Italy, Germany and Australia. It is believed to be around 70% more contagious than the original strain, but experts believe that it would not cause an increased mortality or resistance to current vaccines.

On Saturday, Japan reported 3,881 new cases, a daily record for the fourth straight day, and 46 deaths. Since the pandemic began, Japan reported 213,547 cases and 3,155 deaths.

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