Japan may have entered ninth Covid-19 wave - Virus expert

27 Jun 2023 12:40pm
For illustration purposes only - Photo by AFP
For illustration purposes only - Photo by AFP

TOKYO, Japan - Japan may have entered its ninth wave of Covid-19 infections, an expert who served as the government's top coronavirus adviser said Monday, stressing the importance of protecting vulnerable elderly individuals from the disease, reported Kyodo News.

"As people have been increasingly in contact with others, (the rise in infections) is as expected," Shigeru Omi told reporters after meeting with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to discuss the recent nationwide increase in infections after the government eased countermeasures, including downgrading the legal status of the disease to the same category as seasonal influenza in May.

He underscored that people at high risk of developing severe illness should be vaccinated.

"I don't know if the number of infected people will surpass that of the eighth wave, but we should focus on reducing the number of deaths and ensuring the continuity of social activities," he said.

In the eighth wave, observed between late November and late January, the country saw the number of daily infections peak at more than 246,000.

Following the downgrading of Covid-19's legal status, the government stopped releasing the daily tally of patients.

Now the health ministry only releases the number of patients reported from some 5,000 designated medical institutions across the country and the average number of cases among the facilities on a weekly basis.

According to the latest data released Friday, the average stood at 5.60 patients in the week through June 18, up from 5.11 the previous week.

But the figure in the southern island prefecture of Okinawa was remarkably high at 28.74 per facility, with Omi noting its relatively weak system for providing medical care and low vaccination rates compared with other prefectures. - BERNAMA

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