Fears over the new COVID-19 variant Omicron are growing as more cases are being reported across the world prompting many countries to close their borders.
The Japanese government on Thursday announced that it has since withdrawn its request for airlines to completely halt reservations for inbound international flights this month after being criticized for its strict rule.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida acknowledged that the transport ministry's statement made a day before had caused chaos.
Japanese citizens and foreign residents would've been unable to return home until next year, if their flights weren't already booked.
Japan confirmed its second case of Omicron on Wednesday in a man arriving at Narita Airport from Peru late last month.
Omicron is also present in the U.S. with the country recording its first case on Wednesday local time.
The California resident is fully vaccinated and returned to the U.S. from South Africa on November 22nd before testing positive seven days later.
The U.S. now plans to impose stricter travel restrictions with President Biden to announce the changes on Thursday.
As of Wednesday, at least 59 Omicron cases have been reported across 11 European countries.
Most of which have recently traveled to southern Africa.
The WHO says, the Omicron variant has now been identified in around two dozen countries.
"The emergence of the omicron variant has understandably captured global attention. At least 23 countries from five of six WHO regions have now reported cases of omicron, and we expect that number to grow. WHO takes this development extremely seriously and so should every country, but it should not surprise us."
The WHO chief added that more information is being collected about the new strain.
And, despite mounting uncertainties around Omicron, he called for people to get vaccinated as the shots help save lives.
Jang Tae-hyun, Arirang News.