The Japanese government announced on Tuesday, March 31, that it will be extending an entry ban to foreign nationals from 49 more countries, including the US, Canada, China, South Korea, as well as most European countries and some parts of Southeast Asia, due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The updated list will cover a total of 73 countries, which can be found here. Foreign travelers who have been to these areas in the preceding 14 days will be prohibited from entering Japan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also advised its citizens against non-essential travel abroad, particularly to the countries mentioned in the latest measures.
As of Tuesday, March 31, authorities have confirmed 2183 COVID-19 cases nationwide, including seven deaths. Most COVID-19 cases are currently in Tokyo, which has 521 confirmed cases. Previously on Wednesday, March 25, Tokyo Governor Yurike Koike advised residents to avoid public spaces and restaurants to slow the spread of the virus. Japan's government has not implemented any binding lockdown or city-wide quarantine measures as of Tuesday. The 2020 Olympics, originally set to take place in Tokyo, has also been pushed back to 2021 due to concerns about the virus.
Further international spread of the virus is likely over the coming 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 March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
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 nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.