Japan extended a coronavirus emergency to four additional areas, in addition to Tokyo, on Friday after record-breaking infections during the Olympics.
Yoshihide Sauga, Prime Minister, declared an emergency in Saitama and Kanagawa, both near Tokyo, and in Osaka’s western city. This was effective from Monday to August 31. After the Olympics, emergency measures in Tokyo and Okinawa will continue until August 31.
Despite having been in place for more than two weeks, the Tokyo case surge is raising questions about whether they are able to slow down infections.
Five additional areas, including Hokkaido and Kyoto, Hyogo, Fukuoka, are subject to less stringent emergency restrictions.
Tokyo reported a record number of cases over three consecutive days, with 3,865 on Thursday and 3,300 on Friday. Officials say that the increase in cases has been more than doubled since last week.
Suga declared the state of emergency and stated that “infections are growing in the Tokyo metropolitan area at an incredible speed that we haven’t experienced before.” He warned that Japan’s healthcare system could be destroyed if the current spike in infection rates continues with the spread of the more contagious variant of delta.
Japan’s death rates and cases have remained low than in many other countries. However, the Health Ministry reports that its seven-day average rolling average is increasing and stands at 28 per 100,000 people nationally and 88 per 100,000 Tokyo residents. According to Johns Hopkins University data, this compares with 20.2 in the United States and 42.4 in Britain, while it is 2.9 in India.
Officials reported that 2,995 people are currently being treated in Tokyo. This is about half of the current capacity of 6,000 beds. Some hospitals are already full. Nearly 5,600 people are waiting in their homes while hospitals decide where to treat them. Tokyo has also opened a facility to provide oxygen for patients who are waiting for hospital beds.
Japan has reported 10687 cases nationwide on Thursday. This is more than 10,000 cases for the first time. Since the outbreak, Japan has seen 15,166 deaths from COVID-19. This includes 2,288 in Tokyo.
Although the emergency measures are focused on shorter hours and banning alcohol from restaurants and bars, they have been less effective since people are asked to stay at home and work. Many people have flouted the restrictions because they are tired of them.
Suga stated that his main strategy will remain the same — to focus on dining. Suga stated that subsides would be paid quicker to businesses who cooperate and that local authorities would patrol the area “to increase effectiveness of the measures.” Restaurants and bars complain about being unfairly targeted.
At a subsequent news conference, he stated that the government had approved the use an antibody cocktail treatment to treat mild symptoms and prevent them from getting worse. Experts warn that the treatment might not be available to many people as there are thousands of patients waiting for beds in hospitals.
Suga, who was criticised for insisting that the Olympics be held despite health concerns, claimed that the current upsurge is not related to the Games. He promised to speed up inoculations for younger people who are becoming more infected.
However, the Olympics is sending a contradicting message to people who are asked to limit their activities, Tetsuya Shinokawa, an opposition lawmaker from the Japanese Communist Party, stated in parliament on Friday.
Earlier Friday, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike pointed out that many of the recent cases were attributed to people in their 30s and younger. She urged them all to feel the crisis and take basic steps like wearing masks and not having parties.
On Thursday, 27% had been fully vaccinated in Japan. 71% of seniors are fully vaccinated.