“We will take proactive steps so that we are fully prepared, and our nation can all work together to overcome, without feeling an excessive fear of the omicron,” said Kishida.

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida vowed Tuesday to speed up coronavirus vaccine booster shots, secure imported supplies of drugs to treat COVID-19 and reorganize medical facilities to respond to the fast-spreading omicron variant, AP reports.

Kishida, who took office in October, said he had ordered strict border controls from November to buy time for such preparations. Japan has basically shut out incoming travel except for returning residents and Japanese nationals.

The response to the contagious omicron variant will now shift to domestic measures, such as making free coronavirus tests more readily available, while border controls will continue, he said.

“I just offered prayers so that we may overcome the coronavirus pandemic and this year will be a fantastic year for all of you,” he told reporters after praying at the Ise Shrine in Mie Prefecture, southwest of Tokyo.

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