Passengers head to a Covid-19 quarantine station for clearance following their arrival at Tokyo's Haneda Airport on June 1, 2022. (KAZUHIRO NOGI / AFP)
NEW YORK / MANILA / SINGAPORE / YANGON / ISLAMABAD – Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Thursday his country will ease COVID-19 border control requirements next month, a key step in fostering a recovery in Japan's tourism sector, which is eager to take advantage of the yen's slide to a 24-year low.
We are a nation that has flourished through the free flow of people, goods and capital.
Japanese Prime Minister
Japan has maintained some of the strictest border measures among major economies since the pandemic's onset, having effectively blocked entry to visitors for two years until it began a gradual reopening in June.
Kishida's announcement, made during a speech at the New York Stock Exchange, follows a pledge he made in May that Japan would bring its border controls more in line with other Group of Seven nations.
"We are a nation that has flourished through the free flow of people, goods and capital," Kishida said on Thursday.
"COVID-19, of course, interrupted all of these benefits, but from Oct 11, Japan will relax border control measures to be on par with the US, as well as resume visa-free travel and individual travel," he said.
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From Oct 11, Japan will restore individual tourism and visa-waiver travel to people from certain countries as long as they are vaccinated.
At the same time, it will also scrap a daily cap on arrivals to the country, currently set at 50,000, and may revise regulations on hotels, allowing them to refuse guests who don't abide by infection controls, such as mask wearing, during an outbreak, domestic media reported.
Myanmar confirmed 409 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the tally to 620,444, according to the Ministry of Health on Thursday.
The death toll from COVID-19 in the country reached 19,452 on Thursday after one new death was reported in the past 24 hours, the ministry said.
The total number of patients who have recovered from COVID-19 in the country reached 596,280, including 175 new recoveries on Thursday.
Pakistan recorded 72 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, the National Command and Operation Center said on Thursday.
The overall tally of the infected people climbed to 1,571,894 after adding the fresh cases, according to the data released by the NCOC, the department spearheading the country's plans and strategies against the pandemic.
A total of 30,607 people died of COVID-19 in Pakistan, with one more death reported over the last 24 hours, according to the department.
Singapore reported 2,545 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the total tally to 1,884,859.
Of the new cases, 252 cases were detected through PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and 2,293 through ART (antigen rapid test) tests, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Health.
Among the PCR cases, 230 were local transmissions and 22 were imported cases. Among the ART cases with mild symptoms and assessed to be of low risk, there were 2,103 local transmissions and 190 imported cases, respectively.
No death was reported from COVID-19 on Thursday, making the total death toll stay unchanged at 1,609, the ministry said.
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Passengers wearing face masks wait at a bus stop in Metro Manila, Philippines on Sept 8, 2022. (AARON FAVILA / AP)
The Philippines reported 2,702 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 3,929,819.
The Department of Health said the number of active cases rose to 28,030, while 38 more patients died from COVID-19 complications, pushing the country's death toll to 62,695.