Xinhua Asia-Pacific news summary at 1600 GMT, Dec. 28

TOKYO — Japan on Monday suspended entries of non-resident foreign nationals arriving from the majority of the world in a bid to prevent the spread of the new, highly transmissible coronavirus strain.

The entry restrictions will last through the end of January, while Japanese citizens and foreign residents entering Japan from regions where the new strain of the virus has been detected will be required to submit a negative virus test prior to and after arrival in Japan. (Japan-Entry restrictions)

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MANILA — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday retained the partial lockdown measures in the country’s capital until Jan. 31 next year as the country braces for a new coronavirus variant believed to spread more quickly.

Non-essential travel outside of homes remains prohibited. People are required to wear face coverings, wash hands, and avoid crowds. (Philippines-Manila-Lockdown)

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ISLAMABAD — Pakistan and Afghanistan on Monday kicked off high level talks here to revise a transit trade agreement over the possibility of a preferential trade agreement and a plan to establish border markets to facilitate bilateral trade, officials and diplomats said.

Afghanistan Minister of Industry and Commerce Nisar Ahmad Ghoryani is leading the Afghan delegation while Pakistan is represented by Adviser to the Prime Minister of Pakistan for Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood. (Pakistan-Afghanistan-Trade)

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JAKARTA — The Indonesian government announced the temporary closure of entrances for foreign nationals from all countries on Jan. 1-14, 2021, due to the emergence of a new virus variant that causes COVID-19.

The regulation exempts foreign state officials at the level of ministers and above, who are required to apply tight protocols to prevent further COVID-19 transmissions, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told a virtual press conference on Monday following a limited cabinet meeting. (Indonesia-Entry ban)

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CANBERRA — Australia’s Minister for Health Greg Hunt said on Monday that the COVID-19 vaccination rollout in the country was expected to be completed by the end of October in 2021.

Hunt told a press conference that the country’s vaccine program “is on track and ahead of schedule,” mentioning the developments with regards to the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, whose progress through the international regulators was ahead of where he had previously understood it to have been. (Australia-Vaccine-Rollout) Enditem


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