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Header image depicts a woman holding a transparent umbrella in Tokyo, Japan. (Stock photo courtesy of Tore F/Unsplash)

International (MNN) — The Omicron surge stops international travel in its tracks. More about that here. Currently traveling in Europe, Joe Handley of Asian Access constantly checks for updates and new requirements.

“The situation is very dynamic. I’m going to be in four countries on this trip, and one of them looks like it’s going to require a 10-day quarantine because of the Omicron variant,” Handley says.

“I’m just waiting, [biding] the time to see if things change.”

Asian Access helps churches develop leaders and build capacity in 18 Asian countries. One of those nations – Bangladesh – issued new travel rules on Friday.

“A colleague of mine from Bangladesh was planning to join me [and] they just advised him not to come; we had to cancel his trip,” Handley says.

Omicron unknowns

Health officials know little about the Omicron variant and its effects, but “we are hopeful. The Omicron virus seems to have minor symptoms, so even though it spreads rapidly, [it’s] not as severe as the flu or pneumonia or the original COVID[-19 virus],” Handley says.

“If that [is true], it looks more promising that Asian Access can get back into full gear.”

Asian Access began cutting international travel at the outset of the pandemic and transitioned nearly all of its global team meetings online. “Originally, we were hoping to see [pre-pandemic operations resume] around March [2022],” Handley says.

If the Omicron variant does not pose a severe threat, “perhaps [our goal] will still be possible; I think we’ll know by the end of January whether or not that’s feasible.”

Photo courtesy of Jérémy Stenuit/UnsplashA few months ago, Asian Access senior leaders hoped to see restrictions eased in Japan. Previously, “they had blocked all foreigners for several months, so we were [hoping] things might start shifting,” Handley says.

Before the Omicron variant surfaced, “they (Japan) had lessened restrictions substantially. Foreigners could go back in with just a three-day quarantine,” he continues.

Now, the trend is reversing. According to Associated Press: “Prime Minister Fumio Kishida vowed to take strict measures based on a worst-case scenario of a possible resurgence of infections.”

Next steps

Pray for traveling mercies for Handley and good health for those at risk of infection. Pray the Omicron variant is truly less severe than previous COVID-19 mutations.

“Pray for those who are suffering and impacted by the [new strain],” Handley requests.

“The variant will create a new set of repercussions. As countries close down, that will impact economies; as economies are impacted, the local church is impacted. Their financial viability is at stake. Some of our alumni don’t even have food for the day.”

You can help through the Asian Access COVID-19 Relief Fund.


Listen to the broadcast (story starts at 1:33)

Direct Link: https://s3.amazonaws.com/a2-media/audio/4-5min-Dec07-2021.mp3


More Information

Mission Network News (https://mnnonline.org)Mission Network News exists to inform multitudes about stories that matter and empowers them to take action that changes lives. Join over 1 million radio and internet users each day. Hear stories of what God is doing around the world – and how you can be involved. Each MNN broadcast includes pray, give, or go opportunities that help you find your place in the story. Sign up at mnnonline.org to receive daily news in your inbox. Or check out MNN on social media and share them with others. MNN is a ministry of OneWay Ministries.



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Mission Network News is a mission news service dedicated to keeping Christians informed on evangelical mission activity around the world. In doing so we hope to educate and motivate Christians to prayer, participation, and support of missionary work to help further the Great Commission.

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