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Japan expands entry ban to Mexico, 12 other countries

In this May 2, 2020 file photo, a Narita Airport terminal in eastern Japan is quiet under a state of emergency declared over the coronavirus pandemic. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan's entry ban to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus will be expanded to include Mexico and 12 other countries, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday.

Foreign travelers, including permanent residents, who have been to the countries within two weeks of arrival will be turned away after the ban takes effect Saturday.

The other countries are Azerbaijan, the Bahamas, Cabo Verde, Colombia, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Kazakhstan, the Maldives, Sao Tome and Principe, and Uruguay.

Abe made the announcement at a meeting of the government task force on the coronavirus response.

The Foreign Ministry on Tuesday raised the travel advisory for the 13 countries to Level 3, the second-highest warning which urges Japanese nationals to avoid any trips to these areas.

Their addition brings the number of blacklisted countries and regions to 100, including the United States, China and the whole of Europe.

Foreign visitors to Japan have already slowed to a trickle, falling more than 90 percent in recent months compared with a year earlier and dealing a heavy blow to the world's third-largest economy.

While Japanese nationals are exempt from the entry ban, they are required to be tested for coronavirus and self-isolate for two weeks after re-entering the country.

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