Traveling to or from Japan? Rethink your plans, advises Magdalena Osumi. Grappling with another rising wave of COVID-19 infections and fearing the spread of new strains of the novel coronavirus from abroad, Japan has again tightened its border controls, temporarily banning entry by all new arrivals.

For Japanese nationals and foreign residents entering and re-entering the nation, the government is threatening to name and shame those who breach quarantine restrictions after arrival. Foreign nationals may even lose their residency status if they do not comply with quarantine measures.

The government is also considering getting tougher on COVID-19 patients who refuse to be hospitalized, with prison terms of up to a year or a fine of up to ¥1 million being floated. Those with COVID-19 who won’t help teams with contact tracing may face six months in jail or a fine of ¥500,000.

COVID-19: Mixed reactions among Japanese as state of emergency begins in more areas | CNA
COVID-19: Mixed reactions among Japanese as state of emergency begins in more areas | CNA

Japan’s second state of emergency in response to COVID-19 could become longer and stricter, and cover more prefectures, if the outbreak does not show signs of abating, a minister and the chief of a government panel suggested Thursday, a day after the nation expanded the measure to 11 prefectures.

Across the nation, 6,607 new coronavirus infection cases were reported Thursday, topping 6,000 for the first time in four days. The 11 prefectures under the state of emergency logged 5,266 cases, representing about 80% of the total. The number of deaths linked to the virus grew by 11 to 714 in Osaka, exceeding Tokyo’s 707.

Thursday’s (and Wednesday’s) new COVID-19 cases by prefecture (50 or over): Tokyo 1,502 (1,433), Kanagawa 985 (767), Osaka 592 (536), Chiba 488 (422), Saitama 455 (392), Fukuoka 341 (252), Aichi 312 (319), Hyogo 292 (285), Hokkaido 194 (109), Kyoto 131 (145), Shizuoka 110 (92), Ibaraki 104 (77), Gifu 91 (75), Miyagi 87 (52), Kumamoto 77 (81), Tochigi 77 (141), Okinawa 70 (66), Gunma 60 (58), Nagano 51 (35). Source: Japan COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker