Kishida urges extra precautions for COVID as Japan enters holiday

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday called on the public to take extra precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus as people start traveling across Japan for the year-end and New Year's holiday period.

"As the community spread of the Omicron variant (of the virus) has been confirmed, I have to ask you to be more cautious than usual to prevent a resurgence of infections," Kishida said in a video posted on the Twitter account of the Prime Minister's Office.

He asked people to consider cautiously whether to return to their hometowns during the period. In case of traveling, he called for taking thorough measures such as wearing masks, washing hands and avoiding the "three Cs" -- closed spaces, crowds and close-contact settings.

As for those holding parties, Kishida asked them to do so in small groups and at eateries with certificates for taking anti-virus measures.

Daily coronavirus cases in Japan have been declining since hitting a peak of over 25,000 this past summer, with more than 75 percent of the population inoculated with two vaccine shots.

But concern remains over a possible resurgence during winter. On Wednesday, the nationwide tally stood at 502 cases, exceeding 500 for the first time in over two months.

For international travel, the Japanese government implemented strict border controls on Nov. 30, banning the entry of nonresident foreign nationals and toughening quarantine measures for Japanese citizens and foreign residents who have recently been to certain countries or regions.

Kishida has said he will decide whether to relax the border enforcement measures in line with the infection situation in the year-end and New Year period.

© Kyodo News