March 6, 2020 / 2:27 AM / a month ago

Japan says virus travel restrictions not too late as S. Korea protests

TOKYO, March 6 (Reuters) - Japan’s government defended new, tighter travel restrictions on visitors from China and South Korea, saying they were not too late to help slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, as Seoul protested the measures as “excessive.”

“The decision was the result of a comprehensive review of the information available about the situation in other countries and the effects of other measures,” chief government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference on Friday. “I think the timing is appropriate.”

Starting Monday, people arriving from China and South Korea will be quarantined for two weeks at designated sites. Japanese nationals will also be subject to the measures, Suga said.

South Korea strongly protested the move, calling it “unreasonable, excessive and extremely regrettable”.

Seoul’s foreign ministry will summon the Japanese ambassador on Friday to lodge a complaint, after calling in a senior diplomat late on Thursday to request explanations, it said in a statement.

The number of coronavirus cases in Japan climbed to 1,057 as of Friday morning, an increase of 21 people over the previous day, according to national broadcaster NHK.

Reporting by Kevin Buckland. Editing by Gerry Doyle

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