Tokyo: Japan has prepared 13,000 quarantine rooms for people returning from abroad, up 2,000 from the previous week, as part of the measures against the Omicron variant of the Covid-19, Health Minister Shigeyuki Goto said on Tuesday.
Entrants may be required to move to facilities near the airport instead of the place where they arrived, in order to balance the room supply, Goto said. The measure will be helpful in curbing the increase in users of such facilities as quarantine measures turned tighter.
So far, Japan has reported 17 infection cases linked to the Omicron variant, with the new four cases confirmed at the airport on Tuesday.
The Japanese government has been requiring nationals and foreign residents of Japan who come back from abroad to quarantine in designated facilities for three to 10 days after their arrival, with the period depending on the infection situation of the place where the traveller has stayed.
However, concerns also rose further over the possibility of shortage in such facilities as it is expected that a number of people will return to Japan during the year-end holiday season.
Goto said the ministry will keep working with municipal governments to secure as many facilities as needed.
He also asked for understanding and cooperation from the public as part of the efforts to control the spread of the new strain despite the inconvenience.
The Omicron variant was first reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) by South Africa and was named as a “variant of concern.”