Japan to tighten COVID border controls for travellers from China

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Japan will toughen from Sunday its COVID-19 border control measures for travellers from China, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said, in response to a surge of infections among such visitors.

Additional measures will require negative coronavirus tests before passengers board direct flights from China, Kishida said on Wednesday, stepping up measures adopted on December 30.

Japan will continue to ask airlines to limit additional flights from China, he told a nationally televised New Year news conference.

“Necessary restrictions are still put in place as we are taking all possible measures to prevent infections,” Kishida added.

The decision followed results of COVID-19 tests on travellers from China in recent days and similar measures by other countries, he said.

A Japanese health ministry tally shows 53 of 56 international travellers who tested positive for COVID on arrival at airports on Tuesday were from China.

That compared with Monday’s figure, when all 26 visitors with positive test results were from China.

Most European Union nations favour pre-departure testing for travellers from China, the European Commission said on Tuesday.

Beijing has described as “discriminatory” such curbs, also imposed by South Korea and the United States, among others.

Separately, Japan’s foreign ministry said direct flights from Hong Kong and Macau would be allowed to land at airports other than Narita and Haneda near Tokyo, Kansai near Osaka and Chubu near Nagoya, easing curbs ordered last week.

Airlines must still hold down additional flights from Hong Kong and the gambling hub of Macau even after the list of destination airports widens on Sunday, the ministry added.