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2nd case of Omicron COVID******
Japan confirmed its second case of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 on Wednesday, the top government spokesman said.。
A man in his 20s who arrived from Peru at Narita airport near Tokyo on Saturday was confirmed as infected with the Omicron variant, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said.。
The non-Japanese man from Peru is currently in quarantine at a medical facility, and was not in close contact with the first case, who is a diplomat in his 30s traveling from Namibia, according to the government.。
Scientists are seeking to figure out whether the new strain is more transmissible or able to evade vaccine-induced immunity.。
Earlier on the day, Matsuno said Japan will deny re-entry to all foreigners who have recently been to Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.。
The measure will come into effect Thursday and remain in place "for the time being," Matsuno told a press conference. Japan has already banned new entries of foreigners from around the world from Tuesday.。
Exemptions are allowed to be made in "special circumstances" involving foreign spouses and children of Japanese citizens, diplomats and humanitarian cases, the government has said. But eligibility for such exemptions is being narrowed as part of efforts to keep out the Omicron variant, Matsuno said.。
The transportation ministry also said Wednesday it has demanded airlines to stop accepting new reservations for international flights arriving in Japan as part of tighter border controls.。
The World Health Organization has designated the Omicron strain a "variant of concern," warning it may be highly transmissible or able to evade immunity gained from vaccines or previous infections.。
Republican pulls off shock win in election for Virginia governor******
The Republican candidate pulled off a stunning upset to win the governor's mansion in the US state of Virginia yesterday, United States television networks projected, in a race seen as an early verdict on President Joe Biden's first year in office.
Newcomer Glenn Youngkin was 2.7 points ahead of Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the neck-and-neck tussle shortly after midnight, with more than 95 percent of the vote counted, prompting NBC, CNN and ABC to call the election for the Republican.
A harbinger of the parties' prospects in next year's midterm elections, the race was initially expected to be a comfortable Democratic win but instead became a toss-up in the closing days of the campaign.
A private equity multi-millionaire who has never run for office defeating a former popular Democratic governor will be seen as a disaster for Biden going into the all-important 2022 races that will determine who controls Congress.
"All right Virginia – we won this thing! How much fun!" Youngkin, who poured at least US$20 million of his own fortune into the race, told cheering fans.
Calling his victory a "defining moment," he told the crowd: "Together, we will change the trajectory of this commonwealth. And friends, we are going to start that transformation on day one."
The election, a neck-and-neck tussle for weeks, resonated nationwide as a proxy war between Biden and former president Donald Trump, who gave Youngkin his early backing.
Youngkin's campaign will now likely become a blueprint for Republicans as they strategize on how to leverage Trump's base while avoiding becoming tainted by his toxic brand among moderates in the midterms.
The Democratic faithful had badly wanted the race to be a referendum on Trump but in reality he had little to do with the campaign and was never likely to prove the galvanizing nemesis they had hoped for.
Early in the campaign, Youngkin accepted Trump's endorsement and steered clear of criticizing the twice-impeached ex-president.
But he also pointedly avoided standing next to the GOP leader, who is seen as beyond the pale among independents in much of Virginia, or presenting himself as a Trump acolyte.
McAuliffe's loss will also almost certainly spook moderates on Capitol Hill and drive some away from supporting Biden's stalled US$3-trillion vision for remaking the economy.
The long delays on passing promised social welfare and infrastructure packages are an echo of 2009-2010, when the Democrats suffered big losses amid gridlock in Washington.
Elections were also being held in multiple other states, with voters overwhelmingly backing Democrat Eric Adams for mayor of New York and Democratic New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy just behind in a surprisingly close reelection battle he was nevertheless set to win.
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