TOKYO: Japan’s government defended tighter travel restrictions on visitors from China and South Korea, saying they were not too late to help slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, as Seoul protested the measures as “excessive”. “The decision was the result of a comprehensive review of the information available about the situation in other countries and the effects of other measures,” chief government spokesman YoshihideSuga said at a news conference on Friday. “I think the timing is appropriate.”
The new measures, announced by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday, came after weeks of criticism he was failing to tackle the outbreak head-on and coincided with the country’s biggest one-day increase in new infections. The number of coronavirus cases in Japan stood at 1,057 as of Friday morning, with new infections reported from Yamaguchi prefecture in the southwest to Hokkaido in the north, according to national broadcaster NHK. Kyodo reported a doctor in his 20s in the eastern region of Sagamihara had also caught the virus, which has killed 12 people in Japan and more than 3,000 globally since first detected in China late last year.
The rapid spread of the disease has raised doubts about whether Tokyo will be able to host the Olympics this summer, but the government has been insistent in recent days that the competition will begin as scheduled on July 24. Starting Monday, people arriving from China and South Korea will be quarantined for two weeks at designated sites. Japanese nationals will also be subject to the measures, Suga said. From Saturday, the government will also bar entry to people who have been to areas of South Korea and Iran with high infection rates. (Reuters)