Japan Approaching End Of Covid-19 Emergency In Most Areas: Health Minister

The Covid-19 situation in Japan is improving gradually in a way that the emergency conditions could be lifted soon in most parts of the country said the health minister on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: People wearing protective masks, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, make their way at a shopping district in Tokyo, Japan, September 9, 2021. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

The Covid-19 situation in Japan is improving gradually in a way that the emergency conditions could be lifted soon in most parts of the country said the health minister on Friday.

Health minister Norihisa Tamura told reporters that Hospitalisation rates and patient bed availability will factor into whether the state of emergency dominant over Tokyo and much of the country can be lifted at the end of this month.

“After hearing the opinions of experts, the Cabinet will make a final decision,” he said.

A fifth wave of Covid-19 have been sparked in Japan due to the spread of infectious Delta variant that drove the infections to reach to high levels last month. The government increased the emergency restrictions covering about 80% of the population until the end of September in order to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.

The curbs have centred on asking restaurants to close early and refrain from serving alcohol. Even the residents are being asked to work from home as much as possible and refrain from travel.

However, the government is considering using checks of vaccination status or negative Covid-19 results as a means to relax the restrictions on businesses and human movement.

According to the Jiji news service, a demonstration project of a vaccine confirmation system will be carried out in 13 prefectures, Economy Minster Yasutoshi Nishimura said on Friday.

The fresh new cases in Tokyo have declined to about 550 in recent days, a tenth of their peak last month. At a meeting of health experts on Friday, Governor Yuriko Koike stressed the need to press on with inoculations, saying some 80% of Covid-19 fatalities in Tokyo since August were among the unvaccinated.

“If the number of new positive cases starts to increase, there is a fear that the healthcare system will be in a crisis situation again,” she said.

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