Japan will further tighten quarantine measures for travelers from China early next week amid a recent surge in novel coronavirus cases in the neighboring country, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Wednesday.
Starting Sunday, visitors from China will need to have tested negative before leaving for Japan and will have to undergo a PCR test upon arrival, the premier said at a press conference.
According to the government, individuals entering Japan directly from China, excluding Hong Kong and Macao, will be required to submit a certificate showing a negative result of a test taken within 72 hours prior to departure for the country.
Japan will also continue to request that airlines do not increase the number of direct flights from mainland China, Kishida said after visiting the Ise Jingu shrine in Mie Prefecture.
Late last week, Japan began tightening measures for travelers from mainland China and those who visited the country within seven days, requiring them to take an antigen test for COVID-19 upon arrival.
But Tokyo will enact more stringent rules in line with the United States and other nations.
“We decided to strengthen temporary measures in consideration of test results of those who entered Japan from mainland China during the year-end and New Year holidays,” Kishida said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning criticized Japan’s move, saying at a press conference in Beijing on Wednesday the antivirus steps should be “science-based and proportionate” and should not affect normal personnel exchanges and cooperation.
She also warned against adopting “discriminatory practices” and using virus prevention measures to engage in “political manipulation.”
On Tuesday, Mao said China plans to take countermeasures after several countries announced COVID-19 entry requirements for travelers inbound from China.
Since late last year, China has significantly relaxed its stringent antivirus rules, including no longer restricting people’s movement in the country. It has also stopped releasing data on daily asymptomatic COVID-19 cases.
Although the exact figures are unknown, the drastic changes seem to have triggered an explosion in coronavirus cases across the country.
From Sunday, however, China is scheduled to abandon quarantine measures for arrivals from abroad, having enforced them for around three years since early 2020.
Beijing has also said outbound tourism for Chinese citizens will be resumed “in an orderly manner.”
The novel coronavirus that erupted into a pandemic was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.
SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES