Photo/Illutration A quarantine station at Narita International Airport in Chiba Prefecture in November 2020 (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

In a belated attempt to stop the spread of novel coronavirus variants first seen in India, the Japanese government will further strengthen quarantine measures on entrants from six southern Asian countries.

Japanese nationals arriving from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Maldives and Sri Lanka will likely be required to stay at an accommodation facility designated by the quarantine station for 10 days, extended from the current six-day isolation period.

They will also be required to be tested for COVID-19 five times, one more than the existing requirement, before and after their entry to Japan.

Japan has already banned entries of foreign nationals traveling from these six countries, in principle, regardless of their visa status.

But the central government agreed on further tightening border controls, weeks after the Indian variants have already been spreading throughout Japan.

Currently, Japanese nationals arriving from these six countries are required to be tested before arrival, upon arrival, three days after entering Japan and six days after entering.

But under the newly proposed rule, they will be required to take an additional test on the 10th day after entry.

If they test negative for the novel coronavirus, they will then be allowed to move from the designated accommodation facility to their home. But they will still be asked to remain home until the 14th day after entry.

“Ideally, they should be quarantined for 14 days” at a designated accommodation facility, said Shigeru Omi, chairman of the government panel of experts dealing with the pandemic, at a news conference on May 21.