Japan suspends visas for 11 countries, including PH

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Japan announced on Friday, March 27, that it will suspend the validity of single entry and multiple entry visas issued in 11 countries, including the Philippines, due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

According to the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines, starting Saturday, March 28, the government of Japan will temporarily suspend the validity of single entry and multiple entry visas, including diplomatic and official visa of Japan, issued in the following countries:

Japan's latest visa restrictions will be in effect until the end of April 2020, although the period can be extended. 

Prior to this announcement, it was reported that travelers arriving in Japan from the Philippines will need to self-quarantine for 14 days starting midnight Thursday, March 26. 

Kyodo News reported that Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe announced stronger travel measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus in the East Asian nation.

The report said that aside from Philippine travelers, those coming in from Bahrain, Brunei, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and Qatar will also need to isolate for two weeks upon arrival.  

The same was earlier imposed on travelers from the United States and Egypt.

Affected travelers will be asked to watch for symptoms such as high fever and coughing, and to refrain from using public transportation. Visas that have already been issued to citizens of these countries will be suspended as well. (READ: Tokyo tourist sites 'nearly empty' as coronavirus bites)

As of Thursday, the number of coronavirus cases in the Philippines was at 707, with 45 deaths and 28 recoveries. 

The Kyodo News report said that Abe has also imposed an entry ban on foreign travelers from 21 European countries. Starting midnight Thursday, any foreigner who has been to these countries within 14 days of arriving in Japan will be turned away. 

These countries are Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Iran, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Vatican.

Travelers from parts of China and South Korea, the first two countries hit hard by the pandemic, were banned earlier. 

Japan imposed the stricter travel measures as cases in Tokyo surged in recent days, with Governor Yuriko Koike asking residents to stay over the weekend to prevent an "explosive rise." (READ: Tokyo Olympics postponed over coronavirus pandemic

As of Thursday, Japan has 1,307 coronavirus cases, with 45 deaths and 301 recoveries. – Rappler.com