COVID-19 ebbs out in Japan while authorities prepare details for casual border controls
COVID-19 ebbs out in Japan while authorities prepare details for casual border controls

COVID-19 ebbs out in Japan while authorities prepare details for casual border controls

A sign reminds visitors to wear masks and keep their distance in the Red Brick Warehouse in Yokohama, Japan, Sunday, February 20, 2022. (Aaron Kidd / Stars and Stripes)

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TOKYO – The omicron wave of COVID-19 is declining in Japan as weekly averages continue to decline, but coronavirus continues with a daily ebb and flow.

Japan reported 59,909 new infections on Monday, the lowest daily figure in nearly three weeks, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. Meanwhile, the seven-day average of new cases has fallen from 94,058 on February 8 to 80,382 on Monday.

Tokyo registered 11,443 new cases on Tuesday, according to the public television station NHK and data from the metropolitan government online. Tuesday’s figures are 4,082 less than a week earlier, according to Metro data.

The city reported that 8,805 people tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, the lowest daily figure since 8,503 on January 24th.

The US Forces Japan had not published a daily case update from kl. Tuesday, a public holiday for many U.S. service members and their families in Japan. The USFJ last reported 90 new cases on Friday.

Okinawa Prefecture, where the majority of U.S. forces are located, reported 674 new cases on Tuesday, the highest number in four days, according to the prefecture’s Department of Public Health and Medical Care. Another 128 people in the U.S. military population on the island also tested positive during the period, according to the department.

The Japanese government on Tuesday had not provided further details on its plan, announced four days earlier, to ease COVID-19 border restrictions and quarantine requirements for incoming travelers from March 1.

Government spokesmen at a media briefing on Friday said vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers could be hospitalized and should, in principle, be quarantined for seven days, but quarantine measures will vary for each. Quarantine may be terminated for subjects who test negative for COVID-19 on the third day.

All travelers, except those under the status of the force agreement governing the US military population in Japan, must apply online for entry. Proof of positive test 72 hours before departure, test on arrival and test three days later required by all new arrivals.

Travelers from countries designated as higher risks for COVID-19 should be quarantined at designated facilities, including hotels. Reinforced travelers arriving from these countries may be quarantined at home.

The list of designated countries has not been released, nor is there an online place to apply for entry. During the pandemic, the United States has been on the list of countries whose travelers have been denied entry.

Conversely, on Feb. 7, the U.S. State Department issued a “do not travel” alert to Japan due to an increasing number of COVID-19 cases at the time.

Reinforced, vaccinated travelers from other countries may not need to be quarantined in Japan at all after March 1, although tests are still required, according to the conditions described on briefing material provided to journalists on Friday.

Government officials did not specify whether SOFA members would be taken below the daily limit for arrivals increased from 3,500 to 5,000. A spokesman for the USFJ said Friday that the command would “monitor and adjust” its demands on its population as needed.

Although tourist visas are temporarily completely out of the question, short visits to “relatives, family members and acquaintances” in Japan may be possible after March 1, according to a spokesman at Friday’s briefing.

As long as they have a “receiving organization” and their purpose is not tourism, visitors with family and friends in Japan should be eligible to apply for entry, the spokesman said.

It is customary in Japan for some government officials to speak to the media on condition of anonymity.

Stars and Stripes reporter Mari Higa contributed to this report.

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