Amid a spike in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases, on Wednesday, November 25, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike asked restaurants, bars, and karaoke outlets to close by 10:00 (local time) from Saturday, November 28 until December 17, with financial assistance available for those that comply. Koike also urged residents of the capital to stay at home as much as possible. The measures come after Tokyo recorded 401 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday. There are currently 54 COVID-19 patients in serious condition, the city's highest figure since May. On Thursday, November 19, authorities placed the capital on maximum alert, the highest of four stages of alertness.
In Osaka, which also has a high number of cases of seriously ill patients, prefecture officials have asked restaurants and bars in Kita and Chuo wards, home to the city's entertainment districts, to shut early between Friday, November 27, and December 11.
The majority of nonessential businesses have been permitted to reopen in the country. There remain some restrictions on mass gatherings of over 5000 people. Authorities continue to urge individuals to wear face masks and coverings as much as possible, taking them off only briefly to eat and drink at restaurants. Social distancing, avoiding closed spaces, and exercising basic precautions are still advised.
Japan reopened its borders to selected foreign visitors with permits to stay in the country in October. The relaxation of restrictions allows the entry of foreign nationals with permits to stay for three months or longer for purposes, including engaging in medical, cultural, and sports-related activities. Business trips for less than three months will also be allowed. Travelers will be required to have tested negative for the virus within 72 hours prior to arriving in Japan. After arrival, travelers will be required to stay in self-isolation for 14 days and avoid using public transportation during the period. Travel for purpose of tourism remains prohibited.
As of November 25, there have been 157,708 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 1983 associated fatalities in Japan. Further spread of the virus is expected in the near term.
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). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell, or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
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 risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by 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.
Copyright and Disclaimer