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Omicron COVID Strain
The new COVID variant was initially detected in South Africa and Botswana and sparked major concerns due to its high number of mutations (32). The WHO dubbed the strain Omicron and warned it may prove to be more transmissible and dangerous than other coronavirus variants.

Poll: Most Japanese Back Ban on Visas for Foreigners Amid Omicron Concerns

© REUTERS / KIM KYUNG-HOONA staff wearing a protective suit checks temperature of a passenger boarding an international flight at Narita international airport on the first day of closed borders to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus Omicron variant amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Narita, east of Tokyo, Japan, November 30, 2021
A staff wearing a protective suit checks temperature of a passenger boarding an international flight at Narita international airport on the first day of closed borders to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus Omicron variant amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Narita, east of Tokyo, Japan, November 30, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 06.12.2021
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TOKYO (Sputnik) - As many as 89% of Japanese residents have backed the government's decision to halt the issuance of business and student visas to foreign nationals since the emergence of the "Omicron" coronavirus variant, a public opinion poll published by the newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun found.
At the start of December, the country's government announced the temporary suspension of long- and short-term visas to foreign nationals in a bid to minimise the spread of the Omicron variant.
The government's decision was criticised by just 8% of the poll's respondents.
Against the backdrop of this move, overall support for the country's government has increased, jumping from 56% last month to 62% now.
© AP Photo / Denis FarrellA petrol attendant stands next to a newspaper headline in Pretoria, South Africa, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021.
A petrol attendant stands next to a newspaper headline in Pretoria, South Africa, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 06.12.2021
A petrol attendant stands next to a newspaper headline in Pretoria, South Africa, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021.
This is not the first time the country has suspended the issuance of visas to foreign nationals during the pandemic. In December of last year, the country imposed a ban on the issuance of new visas and closed entry to almost all foreigners, except for residence permit and long-term visa holders.
Omicron was first detected in South Africa and marked as a variant of concern due to its high infection rates by the World Health Organisation, prompting countries worldwide to enforce new travel restrictions and public health measures.
On 30 November, Japan confirmed its first Omicron case.
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