The Japanese transportation ministry said on Wednesday that Japan has urged overseas airlines to cease accepting new reservations for all flights arriving in Japan until the end of December as the country tightens border procedures against the new Covid-19 variant.
It stated that the request was being made as an emergency measure due to increased concern about the spread of omicron.
Those who have already made bookings are unaffected, but the flights may be cancelled if there are not enough passengers, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism informed. Passengers on public transportation are unaffected. Japan serves as a significant hub for flights to and from Asia.
The move comes just one day after Japan verified a second case of the omicron strain in a person who travelled from Peru via Doha, just one day after reporting the first case in a Namibian diplomat.
The second patient, who had had all of his vaccinations, tested positive for the Omicron variant upon arrival on Sunday and was isolated. According to officials, he was originally asymptomatic but has subsequently developed a fever and sore throat.
The remaining 114 passengers on the flight tested negative and are being followed by health officials. The majority are being monitored at a government-designated facility.
Japan has prohibited all foreign visitors as of Tuesday. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stated that the action was being taken as an emergency measure against the new variant. The prohibition is expected to be in effect until the end of the year. In addition, Japanese citizens entering in the country will be quarantined for up to 14 days.