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Following the emergence in early November of the omicron COVID-19 variant, pictured here, countries in Asia have stepped up travel restrictions and quarantine requirements.   © Getty Images
The Big Story

Omicron in Asia: A wake-up call for COVID policymaking

New variant shows futility of border closures and vaccine hoarding

MARRIAN ZHOU, FRANCESCA REGALADO and GRACE LI, Nikkei staff writers | Japan

NEW YORK/TOKYO -- When the World Health Organization named a new COVID-19 strain first identified by South African scientists as a "variant of concern" in late November, Anthony Ramos knew he had little time to act.

The Hong Kong-based business executive had been living in a hotel with his wife and three-year-old daughter since June, waiting to join his Japanese company at their headquarters near Osaka. Japan's borders finally opened in November, allowing Ramos to obtain dependent visas for his family. Their flights were booked for Dec. 3.

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