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A passenger arrives from overseas at the arrival hall of Haneda international airport in Tokyo
Japan has barred tourists since the early days of the pandemic, and has in some cases prevented even existing foreign residents from entering the countryImage: Koji Sasahara/AP/picture alliance
HealthHong Kong

COVID digest: Japan eases border entry rules

February 17, 2022

The more relaxed rules still don't apply to tourists, however. Elsewhere, Hong Kong is planning to use 10,000 hotel rooms for coronavirus patients to free up beds in overwhelmed hospitals. Follow DW for the latest.

https://p.dw.com/p/47A11

Japan will ease its strict border controls starting next month, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Thursday. 

The number of people allowed to enter each day will be increased to 5,000, and quarantine requirements reduced to three days. 

The decision applies to foreign scholars, exchange students and business travelers, but not tourists.

Japan has banned nearly all non-resident foreign entrants since early in the pandemic.

Here are the latest major developments on coronavirus from around the world.

Africa

Moderna has applied for patents in South Africa for its COVID-19 vaccine, but said the move would not block vaccine distribution in Africa.

South Africa's Afrigen Biologics used a sequence of Moderna's vaccine to make its own version of the shot.

It plans to start making and distributing its vaccine across Africa in November.

A group of 60 Africa-based charities raised concerns about the patents saying they fear Moderna would enforce them when COVID-19 is declared endemic.

South Africa's COVID vaccine

Asia

Hong Kong's government plans to make up to 10,000 hotel rooms available for patients with COVID-19 as the autonomous territory, battles a surge in cases.

Quarantine facilities had reached capacity, and more than 90% of hospital beds were full.

Daily infections have surged by more than 60 times since the start of February. Health authorities reported a record 6,116 confirmed cases on Thursday, up from 4,285 the previous day.

COVID-19 patients lying on hospital beds outside a Hong Kong medical center
Hong Kong's hospitals are under severe strain to treat the sheer number of COVID-19 patientsImage: Dominic Chiu/SOPA Images/ZUMA/picture alliance

Europe

Greece's tourism minister has brought the official start of the visitor season forward to March amid "positive signs" of a better summer ahead.

After COVID-19 brought global travel to a standstill in 2020, Greek tourism suffered its worst year on record with just 7 million visitors bringing in revenues of €4 billion  ($4.55 billion).

The industry accounts for a fifth of the country's economy and one in five jobs.

Middle East

Israel dropped its Green Pass system as new daily cases of the coronavirus in the country continued to decline.

The Green Pass, Israel's digital vaccination passport, limited entry to some public venues to people who had recovered from coronavirus or received at least three doses of the vaccine.

"The wave has broken," Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said.

The country recorded around 21,000 new infections on Wednesday, down from a record high of 85,000 cases on some days last month.

Americas

Police in the Canadian capital Ottowa have warned truck drivers blockading the city's downtown area to leave or face arrest.

There was little sign of imminent action to move the nearly 400 vehicles out.

The protesters have disrupted travel and trade with the US and occupied downtown Ottawa for nearly three weeks.

They want vaccine mandates scrapped and pandemic restrictions lifted. Some have also called for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to step down.

Trudeau uses emergency powers to end protest

lo/rt (AP, Reuters, AFP)

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