Japan Vs South Korea: Reciprocal Travel Restrictions

Japan and South Korea announce travel and quarantine requirements on international visitors

map showing south korea and japan

Two countries faced with expanding outbreaks of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus have announced reciprocal travel restrictions within the last 36 hours.

On March 5, 2020, Japan’s government announced quarantine guidelines for arriving visitors from South Korea. This quarantine order is scheduled to be effective from March 9th to the 31st and will apply to anyone entering Japan from South Korea, including Japanese nationals.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said to local media, "This is an appropriate time for the measure. The infection is spreading in a number of countries, and we are now at a critical juncture.’

‘It's important to step up border controls promptly and without hesitation, in addition to preventive measures at home."

As of 11;34 am CT, on March 6th, Japan has confirmed 420 cases of the COVID-19 disease and 6 related fatalities.

Then, during the morning of March 6, 2020, the government of South Korea said Friday it will halt a visa-free entry program for Japan and take other countermeasures in response to Tokyo's decision to impose new restrictions for South Korean visitors over coronavirus fears.

First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Sei-young announced the measures, hours after the foreign ministry voiced "extreme regrets" over Japan's immigration control plan, which it chastised as "unreasonable, unscientific and unfriendly."

In South Korea, the government report 6,593 cases of COVID-19 disease and 43 related fatalities, as of 11:36 am CT, on March 6th.

From a health perspective, the World Health Organization (WHO) continues to advise against the application of travel or trade restrictions to countries experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks.

In general, the WHO says evidence shows that restricting the movement of people and goods during public health emergencies is ineffective in most situations and may divert resources from other interventions. 

Furthermore, restrictions may interrupt needed aid and technical support, may disrupt businesses, and may have negative social and economic effects on the affected countries. 

Travel bans to affected areas or denial of entry to passengers coming from affected areas are usually not effective in preventing the importation of cases but may have a significant economic and social impact, says the WHO.

However, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued high-level Travel Alerts for both Japan and South Korea.

The basis for these CDC Travel Alerts is that the USA has been reporting the majority of its COVID-19 cases are travel-related.

As of March 6, 2020, the CDC confirmed 36 travel-related cases had been confirmed during 2020.

According to the CDC, people can catch the COVID-19 disease from others who have the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales.

About 80 percent of infected people recover from the disease without needing special treatment.

COVID-19 outbreak news is published by Coronavirus Today.

Coronavirus travel alerts are published by Vax-Before-Travel.