Regional Omicron Update 

As most western nations continue to work through their responses to the discovery of the new Covid variant, Asia has overall decided to take more decisive action, which has caused some unexpected disruption. Most notable amongst these is Japan’s move to immediately reverse all easing measures enacted last month, closing its borders, reducing the total arrival cap to 3,500 people per day.

They have also taken the exceptional step of banning the return of Japanese nationals and existing foreign residents traveling from the ten African nations most affected by Omicron.
In an unprecedented move, Japan has also asked its two flag carriers and all other airlines to block any new inbound flight reservations, effective immediately.
 
While mainland China has not yet revealed any specific new measures, Chinese authorities did impose sweeping new quarantine policies in Hong Kong, adding 12 countries – including both Japan and Germany – to the “high risk” arrivals group, requiring 21 days of government quarantine followed by 7 days of self-monitoring, with 7 Covid tests required during that total period. 

Also, in a somewhat unexpected move, Australian authorities will delay the planned opening of borders to international travellers by two weeks and ban entry for visitors from Japan and South Korea until the middle of this month. In addition to Japan and Australia, new cases of Omicron have now been discovered in Hong Kong and South Korea.
 
Singapore, while currently proceeding with its controlled opening, is forging ahead with vaccinated travel lanes, but did introduce 3- and 7-day testing at special facilities as of last week.
 
The majority of the other countries in the region have taken their own steps to limit exposure, some banning all travel from African nations, considered to be at higher risk. Like the rest of the world, Asia will be waiting anxiously for another few weeks to see how the various Covid vaccines will counteract Omicron infection. From that point, more stringent measures may quite possibly be introduced.
 
We welcome you to contact us for further country specific information on the evolving situation.

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