Japan to isolate close contacts of Omicron cases for 14 days

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida holds a press conference following the closing of the extraordinary Diet session on Tuesday.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Japan will ask people who have had close contact with cases of the omicron variant of the coronavirus to be isolated at accommodation facilities for 14 days, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Tuesday.

Kishida also indicated that the government will maintain for the time being its current ban on foreigners newly entering the country, as a measure against the omicron variant, while closely watching the infection situation in the year-end and New Year period.

The prime minister was speaking at a press conference that marked the end of an extraordinary Diet session through the day.

As for the government’s basic accord with Pfizer Inc. on the supply to Japan of 2 million doses of the U.S. drugmaker’s oral drug for COVID-19 patients, Kishida said the government aims to distribute them to medical institutions “early next year.”

Following the passage of the government’s fiscal 2021 supplementary budget on Monday, he said his administration will now enter the stage of implementing economic measures to “curve out a new era.”

The prime minister said the government will implement a 3% hike in salaries for workers at nursing care, child care and child education facilities on a permanent basis in February.

He also mentioned a plan to adopt a policy package next Monday to help small businesses reflect higher costs in their prices.

On the government’s controversial stockpile of cloth face masks procured under the initiative of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Kishida said he has issued an instruction to discard them by the end of the current fiscal year after seeking ways to make effective use of them.

Also at the press conference, Kishida said that the government will draw up by March a plan to develop infrastructure for digital society, indicating a goal of making fiber-optic networks available to 99.9% of households in the country by 2030.

The prime minister said his administration will tackle climate change as a key challenge in his “new capitalism” vision of a virtuous circle of economic growth and wealth redistribution.

Meanwhile, Kishida said that he will “actively promote summit-level diplomacy next year,” reiterating his eagerness to visit the United States as soon as possible.

Kishida said he aims to “elevate [Japan-U.S.] cooperation to a new level” toward realizing the government’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific vision.