Japan expands airport quarantine measures

The Japanese government has further tightened airport quarantine measures for people returning to Japan from countries and regions where more contagious variants of the coronavirus have been confirmed.

At Narita Airport near Tokyo, officials carefully checked papers, including negative virus-test certificates and travel history, of passengers who arrived on Wednesday.

Japanese nationals and non-Japanese with resident status in Japan have already been asked to provide such test certificates if they are returning from Britain or South Africa, where variants of the virus are spreading.

Starting on Wednesday, eight countries were added to the list. They are France, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Australia, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Returnees must provide proof that they tested negative sometime within 72 hours before leaving the countries. If they are unable to hand over the certificates, they will be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine in designated lodgings.

The government is set to add six more countries -- Canada, Sweden, Spain, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland -- to the list as the variants have been found in those places as well.

A 21-year-old woman who returned from Canada said she has heard that the country will be added to the tighter quarantine list. She said such a step is understandable because of the burden additional cases would place on the domestic medical system.

The government had earlier suspended new entries of non-resident foreign nationals until January 31.