The government announced on Friday, March 6, the expansion of entry restrictions for individuals traveling via sea or air from China and South Korea due to the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19). Effective Monday, March 9, travelers from these two countries will be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine upon entry to Japan. A further directive from the Ministry of Justice on Saturday, March 7, announced that foreign nationals having traveled to certain areas in China, South Korea, or Iran in the 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival to Japan will be refused entry. The affected areas include:
- South Korea: parts of North Gyeongsang province including Gyeonsan, Andong, Yeongcheon; Cheongdo, Chilgok, Uiseong, Seongfu, Gunwi districts; and Daegu city
- Iran: Qom, Tehran, and Gilan provinces
- China: Hubei and Zhejiang provinces
Individuals holding a Chinese passport issued in Hubei or Zhejiang (China), or a passport issued in Hong Kong, Macao, or South Korea without a valid visa, and foreign nationals that boarded the Westerdam cruise ship from Hong Kong will also be denied entry to Japan. Moreover, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on March 6 that it has suspended issuing single or multiple-entry visas as of Sunday, March 8, for its embassies and consulates in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao, and South Korea.
Dozens of countries have issued entry restrictions for Japanese nationals or individuals traveling from Japan. More information on these restrictions can be found on the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.
Ministry of Health confirmed 439 cases of COVID-19 nationwide as of 12:00 (local time) on Monday, March 9, and nine associated fatalities. Further spread of the virus is expected in the coming days and weeks.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On February 28, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the risk of spread and the risk of impact of the virus is "very high" at the global level.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone non-essential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
Potentially impacted travelers are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.
To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue - throw tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider.
In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, travelers are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider. Travelers returning from China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran, who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid potential spread of the disease.