Japan will deny entry to foreign travelers from a further 14 countries, including Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, strengthening its border controls to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.

With the ban effective starting Wednesday, people who have been to the listed countries within two weeks of their arrival in Japan will be turned away at the border. Speaking at a meeting of the government's task force on the coronavirus response Monday, Abe also said Japan will extend its suspension of visas issued to foreign travelers to the end of May.

Japan has been scrambling to stop a rapid rise in cases of COVID-19, with the population being urged to stay at home and some businesses being asked to temporarily close in order to reduce person-to-person interactions that could spread the respiratory disease.