Japan to Add 8 Prefectures to COVID-19 Quasi-State of Emergency
posted on by Alex Mateo
The Japanese government's coronavirus advisory panel approved a plan on Thursday to move eight more prefectures to more focused anti-virus measures in a quasi-state of emergency from August 8 to August 31 in response to the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The prefectures are Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Shizuoka, Aichi, Shiga, and Kumamoto. Five other prefectures — Kyoto, Hokkaido, Fukuoka, Hyogo, and Ishikawa — already moved to more focused anti-virus measures on Monday. All 13 prefectures will remain in a quasi-state of emergency until August 31.
Japan reported 15,263 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, the second day in a row with a new record daily count and the first time it topped 15,000. Japan's total number of infections is 986,451. The country has had 15,241 deaths due to the virus.
Tokyo reported 5,042 new cases on Thursday, which is the first time the number has exceeded 5,000, surpassing the previous record of 4,166 cases from Wednesday. The number is up 1,177 from one week earlier. Tokyo officials stated that 135 people were in serious condition, 20 more than the previous day. This is the first time since February 1 that this number has exceeded 130.
Economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who is in charge of the COVID-19 response, stated that the situation has entered a new "phase" with the virus' Delta variant accounting for 90 percent of new cases in Tokyo and surrounding areas. According to him, the number of ill patients has doubled in the past two weeks, severely straining the healthcare system. Focused anti-virus measures include asking bars and restaurants to stop serving alcohol in certain areas, ensuring necessary medical services, and asking those who must travel to undergo COVID-19 testing.
The head of the Japanese government's advisory panel on the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Shigeru Omi urged Japan to consider declaring a nationwide state of emergency amid the new daily case record on Wednesday.
Osaka, Kanagawa, Saitama, and Chiba went under the stricter full state of emergency starting on August 2 until August 31. In addition, the current state of emergency in Tokyo and Okinawa had its end date extended from August 22 to August 31.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced on Monday the government's new policy, under which COVID-19 patients without serious symptoms would recuperate at home. Omi stated that more support would be provided for community health care systems, including general practitioners and visiting nurses. He added that more measures are needed to give patients options for recuperation.
Government experts expressed their concerns for a shortage of hospital beds, as new cases have increased about 50% weekly this month, and they project this exponential growth will continue unless measures are taken.
Under the current state of emergency, the government requests events to limit attendance to 50% of capacity or 5,000 people, whichever is less, and to end by 9:00 p.m. The government also requests large facilities such as department stores and arcades to close by 8:00 p.m. and movie theaters to close by 9:00 p.m. — but not close completely as they did in some of the previous states of emergency. The government is offering payments in advance to dining and drinking establishments if they close by 8:00 p.m. and stop serving alcohol. (Previously, the payments came after an application process.)
The nation reported 10,699 new COVID-19 cases on July 29 — the first time there were over 10,000 new cases in one day.