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Japan airlines halt reservations as government widens travel ban

TOKYO Japan's flag airlines halted new reservations yesterday and the government widened a travel ban amid escalating alarm over Omicron after a second case of the coronavirus variant was detected in the country.

Japan Airlines and ANA Holdings said they were suspending new reservations for international flights to Japan until the end of the month. The move came at the request of the Transport Ministry, which has also requested foreign airlines to halt all such reservations.

Japan took some of the strictest steps globally on Monday by closing its borders to new foreign entrants for about a month in light of the emergence of Omicron. A day later, Japan's first Omicron case was discovered - a Namibian diplomat who had arrived on Sunday.

A second case was found in a male traveller in his 20s coming from Peru who landed at Narita International Airport on Saturday, the Health Ministry said.

From yesterday, the government stopped the re-entry of those with residency status travelling from 10 southern African states for at least a month.

The restrictions apply to Japan residents coming from South Africa, Eswatini, Namibia, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Lesotho, Angola, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

"From the view of prevention, we won't just restrict new entry by foreigners but also returning foreigners with resident status, unless there are special extenuating circumstances," Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said.

Regarding other passengers on the plane with the Namibian diplomat, he said none of the 70 people designated as close contacts and currently observing quarantine had shown signs of falling ill. - REUTERS

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