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Coronavirus

Japan asks arrivals from US to quarantine for 2 weeks

Move comes as America's coronavirus cases more than doubles in 2 days

Airline employees walk past a quarantine counter at Japan's Narita Airport.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Monday that travelers entering the country from the U.S. will be asked to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

A government task force will approve the restrictions at a meeting later Monday. The steps are aimed at returnees and visitors to Japan who have stayed in the U.S., and they will be urged to refrain from using public transportation.

The measures will start within the week and be in effect until the end of April. Similar steps are being enforced in China and South Korea. Arrivals from European countries such as the U.K., France and Germany, as well as from Egypt and Iran, have been subject to such orders since Saturday.

"We are making this decision in line with efforts from countries including the U.S. to prevent the further spread of infections globally," Abe told parliament. "We are continuing to monitor and analyze infection information from foreign countries, and won't hesitate to be flexible on our border controls."

The number of people in America confirmed to be infected with the virus reached almost 27,000 as of early hours in Tokyo on Monday, increasing by a factor of 2.6 in just two days. The U.S. has also decided to request that arrivals from Japan enter quarantine for 14 days.

According to the Japan Tourism Board, the number of visitors from the U.S. last year was 1.72 million, behind only neighboring China, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday raised its travel alert to the highest "Level 3" for five countries including Japan. This encourages Americans to stop all but urgent travel, and asks returnees to stay at home for 14 days.

The Japanese government has raised the entire U.S. to "Level 2," urging a stop to unnecessary and non-urgent travel, in a new coronavirus infection risk report released Saturday. The U.S. Department of State on Thursday raised its international travel advisory to the highest "Level 4," advising Americans to stop all foreign travel.

Japan will strengthen its cooperation with the U.S. to combat the global spread of the virus. Japan has temporarily suspended visa-free entry from China, South Korea and Europe. It has not done so for the U.S., from which visitors have virtually ceased.

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