Potentially more contagious than earlier strains, the Omicron Covid-19 variant first identified in South Africa has spread to at least 12 other countries, prompting several nations to step up containment measures. Follow FRANCE 24 for live updates.
The Omicron variant has been found in Australia, Belgium, Botswana, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, and the Netherlands.
8am Paris time: Japan bars foreigners
Japan said it will shut its borders to foreigners to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant, joining Israel in imposing some of the strictest border controls since the variant's discovery in South Africa.
Japan will bar entry to foreigners from midnight on Monday, and Japanese returnees from a number of specified nations will have to quarantine in designated facilities, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told journalists.
"These are temporary, exceptional measures that we are taking for safety's sake until there is clearer information about the Omicron variant," Kishida continued.
"I'm prepared to bear all criticism from those saying the Kishida administration is being too cautious."
This comes just a few weeks after Kishida's new government eased quarantine measures on foreign business travellers to help boost the economy.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)