Japan’s second state of emergency in response to COVID-19 could become longer and stricter and cover more prefectures if the epidemic does not show signs of abating, a minister and the head of a government group, a day after the country’s expansion. the measure at 11 prefectures.
Shigeru Omi, the head of the government pandemic subcommittee, said if the number of new coronavirus cases remains stable or only slightly decreases during the designated period, it would be “impossible to maintain the current statement on the condition. emergency, and stronger measures will be needed. “
“Calling for the closure of businesses is an option,” Omi added at a meeting of the House of Councilors committee. Under the state of emergency, which will last until February 7, restaurants and bars have been asked to close at 8 p.m.
Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister responsible for the government response to the coronavirus, also said: “More prefectures could be added (to the state of emergency zone) depending on the infectious situation.”
The government will decide whether to further expand the emergency declaration after reviewing the infectious situation, the availability of medical care and the capacity of public health centers in each region, Nishimura said at the meeting.
But noting that the number of cases has remained at low levels in some areas, such as Tohoku, Nishimura said there was no immediate plan to expand the state of emergency nationwide.
Toshio Nakagawa, president of the Japanese Medical Association, said on Wednesday the government should consider a nationwide state of emergency as an “option” to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus and ease pressure on the medical system .
The cumulative total of confirmed infections in the country exceeded 300,000 on the same day, and Nakagawa said the medical system was increasingly overwhelmed with some hospitals forced to turn away non-COVID patients.
“Depending on the situation in the near future, declaring a state of emergency for the whole country is an option. I would like (the government) to act quickly,” Nakagawa said at a press conference.
The total number of COVID-19 cases increased by 100,000 in about three weeks, after surpassing 100,000 on October 29 and reaching 200,000 almost two months later on December 21, according to a count from Kyodo News.
Japan has also confirmed the presence of new coronavirus variants discovered in the UK and South Africa, infections are expected to increase at an even higher rate if they spread across the country.
Besides Tokyo, which confirmed a record 2,447 new infections on Jan. 7, other prefectures with huge urban populations, including Osaka and Aichi, also saw a sudden spike in cases earlier this year.
According to a panel of experts from the Ministry of Health, the number of people in Tokyo who could not find hospitals or other treatment facilities after testing positive for the novel coronavirus has risen to more than 6000 Saturday.
The figure had nearly doubled from the previous week, the panel said on Wednesday. In more and more areas with increasing infections, local authorities are struggling to get COVID-19 patients into hospitals or other facilities, the panel said, adding that it was increasingly difficult. to balance the treatment of these patients with those affected by other illnesses or injuries.
The panel noted the spread of COVID-19 in Tokyo and other metropolitan areas at the end of last year, mainly through company parties and other holiday celebrations and gatherings involving eating and drinking among young people, and expressed concern about a possible further increase in infections among older people.
One possible factor behind the nationwide spike in infections after the start of the year was that people were traveling to their hometowns and having dinner with loved ones during the holiday season and New Year’s Eve.
The effective breeding number, or the average number of people to whom an infected person transmits the virus, was estimated at 1.14 nationwide as of December 27 last year. A reading greater than 1.0 indicates that the infection is spreading.
The figure was estimated at 1.09 each in Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture, 1.06 in Saitama Prefecture, and 1.23 in Chiba Prefecture.
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