Virus: Japan lifts entry cap on daily arrivals to bolster tourism

A woman wearing a face mask checks out her mobile phone as she walks across an intersection of the famed Ginza shopping district in Tokyo on June 3, 2022. (HIRO KOMAE / AP)

NEW DELHI / HANOI / SINGAPORE / MANILA / KUALA LUMPUR / TOKYO / SEOUL – Japan on Wednesday lifted the daily entry cap on arrivals to the country from 20,000 to 50,000, in a bid to bolster the ailing tourism sector amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also effective Wednesday, travelers coming to Japan will be exempt from taking COVID-19 tests 72 hours before departure if they have received three vaccination shots.

Japan has been looking to bring its entrance protocols, once the most rigid among the Group of Seven major developed nations, in line with other major economies.

The government is now encouraging travelers to visit the world's third largest economy and take advantage of the weak yen, which hit a fresh 24-year low Wednesday, which bolsters tourists' purchasing power while here and will help the country's tepid economic recovery.

Japan is grappling with a seventh wave of COVID-19 infections, recording record cases in recent days, due to the highly transmissible BA.5 Omicron subvariant of the virus.

Despite the high infection rate, the government has not declared a COVID-19 state of emergency and has not instituted any anti-virus restrictions as was the case when infections had previously surged.

People wearing masks as a precaution against the coronavirus walk through a market in New Delhi, India, Aug 11, 2022. (ALTAF QADRI / AP)


India's federal health minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Tuesday the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has cleared vaccine maker Bharat Biotech's nasal vaccine against COVID-19 for emergency use.

Mandaviya has described the development as a big boost to the ongoing fight against COVID-19.

"Big Boost to India's Fight Against COVID-19! Bharat Biotech's ChAd36-SARS-CoV-S COVID-19 (Chimpanzee Adenovirus Vectored) recombinant nasal vaccine approved by CDSCO for primary immunization against COVID-19 in 18 plus age group for restricted use in emergency situation," Mandaviya said in a brief statement posted on social media.

The health minister said the step would further strengthen the country's fight against the pandemic.

Health experts said this would go a long way in removing the vaccine hesitancy. India is administering the COVID-19 vaccines intramuscularly.

India recorded 5,379 new COVID-19 infections in the past 24 hours, taking the total tally to 44,472,241, official data showed on Wednesday.

The country also logged 27 COVID-19 related deaths during the past 24 hours, bringing the overall death toll to 528,057, the ministry said.


Malaysia recorded 2,067 new COVID-19 infections as of midnight Tuesday, bringing the total tally to 4,795,009, according to the Health Ministry.

The newly reported infections included four imported cases and 2,063 local transmissions, data released on the ministry's website showed.

Another six deaths have been reported from the pandemic, taking the death toll to 36,255.

A child receives the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5-11 as a performer dressed as superhero character Spider-Man looks on at a gym in San Juan City, suburban Manila on Feb 7, 2022. (TED ALJIBE / AFP)


The Philippines reported 1,326 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 3,894,840.

The Department of Health (DOH) said the number of active cases dipped to 23,272, while 56 more patients died from COVID-19 complications, pushing the country's death toll to 62,118.

Metro Manila, the capital region with over 13 million people, tallied 498 new cases.

A notice warning people not to gather in groups larger than five persons as part of restrictions to hald the spread of the coronavirus is displayed at Raffles Place financial business district in Singapore on Jan 4, 2022. (ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP)


Singapore reported 2,745 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total tally to 1,850,015.

Of the new cases, 262 cases were detected through PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and 2,483 through ART (antigen rapid test) tests, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Health.

Among the PCR cases, 247 were local transmissions and 15 were imported cases. Among the ART cases with mild symptoms and assessed to be of low risk, there were 2,315 local transmissions and 168 imported cases.

No death was reported from COVID-19 on Tuesday, leaving the total death toll unchanged at 1,596, the ministry said.

South Korea

South Korea reported 85,540 new COVID-19 cases as of midnight Tuesday compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 23,791,961, the health authorities said Wednesday.

The daily caseload was down from 99,837 the previous day and lower than 103,918 tallied a week ago, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).

The latest number of infected people who were in serious condition stood at 521, down 15 from the previous day.

Fifty-six more deaths were confirmed from the pandemic, taking the death toll to 27,249. The total fatality rate was 0.11 percent. 

A man passes walks past a billboard on the coronavirus in Ho Chi Minh City on Dec 4, 2021. (NHAC NGUYEN / AFP)


Vietnam recorded 3,699 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, up by 1,538 from Monday, according to its ministry of health.

Among the new cases, five were imported and the rest were all locally transmitted, said the ministry.

The newly reported infections brought the total tally to 11,424,754. The country reported a new death from the pandemic in the southern Ben Tre province on Tuesday, bringing the total fatalities to 43,123.