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COVID-19 Coronavirus: situation in Japan

Lothor

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If you're on Facebook, do join the Return to Japan Support Group, which is a good source of information. Hope you'll be together soon.
 

Michael2

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If you're on Facebook, do join the Return to Japan Support Group, which is a good source of information. Hope you'll be together soon.
See this is why it's confusing. There are loads of posts on that site from people saying they've recently been issued instructor visas, spouse visas you name it, including one from London just today 🤣🤣
 

mdchachi

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I was surprised to find an American-residing colleague was able to accompany his wife traveling to Japan for his mother-in-law's funeral a couple weeks ago. He had a official letter of some sort (maybe from the embassy) so he must have done the "exceptional circumstance" thing. He said the airline tried not let him on and he wasn't sure they'd let him in the country once he got there but it worked out in the end.
 

Michael2

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I think the confusing aspect of it is that it seems that the "exceptional circumstances" are the very fact that you're a spouse of a Japanese national, or getting an instructor visa or Professor visa or whatever. I'd read it that you needed special circumstances on top of that but it seems like they are the special circumstances themselves.
 

thomas

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Here are the weekly updates. I have added Fukuoka Prefecture which has seen spikes lately.


Nationwide infections:

28/04 (Wed)29/04 (Thu)30/04 (Fri)01/05 (Sat)02/05 (Son)03/05 (Mon)04/05 (Tue)
5,792 (+ 501)
5,918 (+ 419)
4,684 (- 429)
5,986 (+ 380)
5,900 (+ 1,293)
4,470 (+ 1,150)
4,199 (- 751)

Nationwide deaths - Seriously Ill:

28/04 (Wed)29/04 (Thu)30/04 (Fri)01/05 (Sat)02/05 (Son)03/05 (Mon)04/05 (Tue)
51 (+ 12) - 953 (+ 162)
52 (- 2) - 951 (+ 46)
87 (+ 51) - 978 (+ 162)
35 (- 19) - 1,020 (+ 183)
67 (+ 8) - 1,050 (+ 186)
65 (+ 6) - 1,084 (+ 186)
58 (+ 3) - 1,083 (+ 167)

Infections in selected prefectures:

28/04 (Wed)29/04 (Thu)30/04 (Fri)01/05 (Sat)02/05 (Son)03/05 (Mon)04/05 (Tue)
Aichi
323 (+ 11)
430 (+ 136)
290 (+ 6)
398 (+ 59)
350 (+ 125)
304 (+ 143)
219 (- 62)
Chiba
144 (+ 32)
152 (+ 11)
192 (+ 153)
95 (- 52)
182 (+ 36)
148 (+ 58)
124 (- 5)
Fukuoka
440​
337​
305​
352​
417​
285​
239​
Hokkaido
219 (+ 95)
234 (+ 81)
187 (+ 29)
180 (+ 20)
326 (+ 216)
114 (- 25)
233 (+ 112)
Hyogo
600 (+ 37)
534 (- 13)
333 (- 234)
539 (- 96)
539 (+ 66)
344 (+ 34)
337 (- 168)
Kanagawa
257 (+ 5)
255 (- 63)
240 (+ 14)
275 (+ 59)
247 (+ 26)
222 (+ 62)
214 (+ 2)
Miyagi
42 (- 32)
21 (- 57)
29 (+ 4)
22 (- 14)
54 (+ 23)
25 (+ 12)
24 (- 12)
Okinawa
63 (- 32)
76 (- 44)
59 (- 26)
105 (- 12)
57 (- 9)
57 (+ 13)
33 (- 53)
Osaka
1,260 (+ 18)
1,172 (+ 5)
1,043 (- 119)
1,262 (+ 165)
1,057 (+ 7)
847 (- 77)
884 (- 346)
Saitama
224 (- 3)
256 (+ 23)
146 (- 61)
236 (+ 7)
290 (+ 79)
198 (+ 89)
185 (+ 2)
Tokyo
925 (+ 82)
1,027 (+ 166)
698 (- 61)
1.050 (+ 174)
879 (+ 244)
708 (+ 283)
609 (- 219)

 

thomas

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Today, the government extended the SoE to 31 May and expanded it to two more prefectures, Aichi and Fukuoka.

Restrictions on dining establishments and other businesses that had been slated to end Tuesday will remain in place and come into effect in Aichi and Fukuoka prefectures from Wednesday. With their addition, Japan's third state of emergency since the start of the pandemic will cover an area accounting for one-third of its population and more than 40 per cent of the world's third-largest economy. [...] The state of emergency has been in effect in Tokyo, which is set to host the Summer Olympics in less than three months, as well as Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures since April 25, with targeted steps aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus during the Golden Week holidays. Restaurants and bars will continue to be prohibited from serving alcohol or offering karaoke services and must close by 8 p.m. with a fine of up to 300,000 yen ($2,750) for noncompliance. Businesses will continue to be encouraged to have employees work from home.



Businesses that serve alcohol in the six prefectures will be asked to close operations for the duration of the state of emergency. However, the previous closure request to commercial outlets with a floor space of 1,000 square meters or more will be eased. Those establishments will be allowed to stay open until 8 p.m. Measures concerning crowd capacity for sporting and other events will also be relaxed. Venues in the four prefectures covered by the state of emergency have held such events without spectators in the stands. The eased rules will allow a 50-per cent capacity of the venues, but only up to 5,000 people. Governors facing still high numbers of new cases, such as in Tokyo and Osaka, will be given more flexibility on the measures, such as whether to continue asking large commercial outlets to shut operations and ban all spectators. The government task force also approved implementing pre-emergency measures to three new prefectures—Hokkaido, Gifu and Mie—from May 9 and extending such measures in the five prefectures of Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Ehime and Okinawa until May 31.

 

mdchachi

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I was really hopeful the warmer weather would be helpful. Maybe the newer variants are making things worse. On top of people's complacency.
 

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They might as well rule out US athletes , they can't protest by taking a knee or raising a fist so they will protest by staying home , LOL.
 

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This very recent report by by Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (part of Washington University) has been cited a few times in the Japan Today comments today. I had a look at it and it is an eye opener. Basically, they've tried to estimate the actual number of Covid-19 deaths by comparing the number of deaths assuming a normal mortality rate and the actual mortality since March 2020 while trying to eliminate factors affecting mortality that are indirectly due to Covid-19. These include accidents (more people are at home so there are fewer fatal traffic accidents, reducing mortality), delayed hospital treatment (important operations being cancelled because of a wave of cases or people avoiding hospitals because of the perceived risk of becoming infected, increasing mortality), etc. Interestingly, they didn't consider reduced deaths due to better air quality - too difficult to measure? Anyway, for those who don't want to read the methodology (I only glanced at it), the key results are in Table 1. Essentially, the official statistics are underestimates in all countries (e.g., about 905,000 estimated deaths in the USA compared with an official figure of about 574,000). Overall, they estimate the number of worldwide deaths due to Covid-19 to be 6.9 million, just over double the official figure, so America's discrepancy is fairly typical. However, when it comes to Japan, the estimated number of deaths was 108,320, about 10 times the official figure! They did not give an explanation for the huge difference in Japan, which seems to be an outlier. This is quite a disturbing report if the estimates are accurate.

Estimation of total mortality due to COVID-19
 

thomas

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Quite disconcerting! So if we were to apply that same mortality ratio to actual infections, 7,000 daily cases reported would translate into 70,000.

total-mortality-figure-5.png


Japan would find itself in the illustrious company of Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Belarus, and Egypt.
 

thomas

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The weekly updates:


Nationwide infections:

05/05 (Wed)06/05 (Thu)07/05 (Fri)08/05 (Sat)09/05 (Son)10/05 (Mon)11/05 (Tue)
4,071 (- 1,721)
4,375 (- 1,543)
6,057 (+ 1,373)
7,251 (+ 1,265)
6,493 (+ 593)
4,940 (+ 470)
6,160 (+ 1,961)

Nationwide deaths - Seriously Ill:

05/05 (Wed)06/05 (Thu)07/05 (Fri)08/05 (Sat)09/05 (Son)10/05 (Mon)11/05 (Tue)
50(- 1) - 1,114 (+ 161)
47 (- 5) - 1,098 (+ 147)
72 (- 15) - 1,131 (+ 153)
113 (+ 78) - 1,131 (+ 111)
121 (+ 54) - 1,144 (+ 94)
53 (- 12) - 1,152 (+ 68)
109 (+ 51) - 1,177 (+ 94)

Infections in selected prefectures:

05/05 (Wed)06/05 (Thu)07/05 (Fri)08/05 (Sat)09/05 (Son)10/05 (Mon)11/05 (Tue)
Aichi
224 (- 99)
290 (- 140)
443 (+ 153)
575 (+ 177)
473 (+ 123)
426 (+ 122)
578 (+ 359)
Chiba
121 (- 23)
111 (- 41)
99 (- 93)
162 (+ 67)
152 (- 30)
172 (+ 24)
119 (- 5)
Fukuoka
337 (- 103)
259 (- 78)
472 (+ 167)
519 (+ 167)
529 (+ 112)
372 (+ 87)
404 (+ 165)
Hokkaido
181 (- 38)
320 (+ 86)
248 (+ 61)
403 (+ 223)
506 (+ 180)
409 (+ 295)
421 (+ 188)
Hyogo
331 (- 269)
281 (- 253)
493 (+ 160)
568 (+ 29)
366 (- 173)
271 (- 73)
377 (+ 40)
Kanagawa
152 (- 105)
224 (- 31)
230 (- 10)
303 (+ 28)
338 (+ 91)
237 (+ 15)
277 (+ 63)
Miyagi
24 (- 18)
32 (+ 11)
37 (+ 8)
47 (+ 25)
32 (- 22)
25 (+ 12)
33 (+ 9)
Okinawa
63 (+- 0)​
39 (- 37)
82 (+ 23)
93 (- 12)
103 (+ 46)
14 (- 43)
132 (+ 99)
Osaka
668 (- 592)
747 (- 425)
1,005 (- 38)
1,021 (- 241)
874 (- 183
668 (- 179)
974 (+ 90)
Saitama
165 (- 59)
179 (- 77)
238 (+ 92)
285 (+ 49)
279 (- 11)
155 (- 43)
278 (+ 93)
Tokyo
621 (- 304)
591 (- 436)
907 (+ 209)
1,121 (+ 71)
1,032 (+ 153)
573 (- 135)
925 (+ 316)

Number of vaccinations as of 09/05:

4,436,325
(4,095,178 medical workers, 341,137 senior citizens)

 
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Lothor

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The publisher Takarajimasha took the highly unusual step of paying for adverts in three of Japan's top-selling newspapers yesterday (it was a double-page centre spread in the Yomiuri Shimbun), condemning the government's handling of the virus and likening its inability to provide quality medication and vaccinations to kids being trained to fight with bamboo spears at the end of WWII. The image in the advert is very striking, and I'm increasingly hearing analogies between the government's inability/refusal to change track on holding the Olympics and its disastrous stubbornness in 1944-5.

 

thomas

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The publisher Takarajimasha took the highly unusual step of paying for adverts in three of Japan's top-selling newspapers yesterday (it was a double-page centre spread in the Yomiuri Shimbun), condemning the government's handling of the virus and likening its inability to provide quality medication and vaccinations to kids being trained to fight with bamboo spears at the end of WWII. The image in the advert is very striking, and I'm increasingly hearing analogies between the government's inability/refusal to change track on holding the Olympics and its disastrous stubbornness in 1944-5.

Yes, it is really a shame that procedures that should have been prepared A YEAR AGO are starting to be tackled just now! The reservation system for the coronavirus vaccinations is in shambles. Some municipalities take only phone reservations, and those lines are permanently engaged. My sister-in-law tried to arrange things for the parents and rang them up 500 times, in vain. That was in Yokohama.

I understand that organising a national vaccination campaign is a huge undertaking, but so far, it has been at snail's pace and simply inefficient! Very disappointing. Sorry for the rant.
 

Lothor

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Yes, it is really a shame that procedures that should have been prepared A YEAR AGO are starting to be tackled just now! The reservation system for the coronavirus vaccinations is in shambles. Some municipalities take only phone reservations, and those lines are permanently engaged. My sister-in-law tried to arrange things for the parents and rang them up 500 times, in vain. That was in Yokohama.

I understand that organising a national vaccination campaign is a huge undertaking, but so far, it has been glacial and simply inefficient! Very disappointing. Sorry for the rant.
I just hope that this leads to a rare moment of clarity in the minds of the electorate later this year, as there was in 2009 after millions of records of pension contributions were lost.
 

thomas

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I just hope that this leads to a rare moment of clarity in the minds of the electorate later this year, as there was in 2009 after millions of records of pension contributions were lost.

I seriously doubt it. It seems preferable to be cheated and lied to by the known thugs rather than the unknown.

If any of you want to take a vacation here, it's very easy to get vaccinated now and there's none of the usual American nonsense regarding health insurance, etc. Just show up and get a shot.

I was positively surprised to see on CNN that New York City (and probably other municipalities, too) offer free shots to all tourists. (y)
 

Lothor

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Thomas - Judging from the recent US and New Zealand elections and the very recent UK local election, performance in tackling Covid is a big factor. Trump lost the election because of it and Jacinda Ardern probably did so well because of New Zealand's very low number of cases and deaths. Britain is a bit more complicated. Despite the mess the government made last year, they were very proactive in making sure furloughed workers got paid (unlike Japan) and the vaccination rollout has been one of the best in the world (unlike Japan), and they were rewarded at the election by people who have not historically voted Conservative (a hopelessly divided Labour party also helped). I'm slightly more optimistic that the LDP is going to get a well-deserved kicking in the next election.
 

thomas

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From your lips to god's ears, Lothor! :)

Yes, the UK and the US did amazingly well. I reckon the handling and the outcome of the Olympics will play a significant role in the LDP's political survival, too. The cultural superiority Mr Aso boasted about just one year ago seems to have vanished into thin air. Let's just hope that the next general election will not be held on a rainy day.
 

thomas

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Today, the government declared a state of emergency over three more prefectures: Hokkaido, Okayama, and Hiroshima. Hokkaido saw 712 new cases yesterday (593 today). The extended SoE will last until 31 May in totally eight prefectures.

However, infections are rising across the nation, particularly in Hokkaido, Okayama and Hiroshima prefectures. Hokkaido has already been placed under the pre-emergency measures, but new COVID-19 cases there continue to increase, reaching a daily record of 712 on May 13, including 499 in the capital of Sapporo. The Hokkaido government has asked the central government to issue the state of emergency for Sapporo. The pre-emergency measures will still be issued for Gunma, Ishikawa and Kumamoto prefectures. These anti-virus measures will apply from May 16 to June 13, according to the new plan. Earlier this month, the state of emergency was extended until May 31 for Tokyo, Osaka, Hyogo and Kyoto prefectures. It also covers Aichi and Fukuoka prefectures.

 

thomas

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Here are last week's numbers:


Nationwide infections:

12/05 (Wed)13/05 (Thu)14/05 (Fri)15/05 (Sat)16/05 (Son)17/05 (Mon)18/05 (Tue)
7,057 (+ 2,986)
6,880 (+ 2,505)
6,266 (+ 209)
6,422 (- 829)
5,261 (- 1,232)
3,680 (- 1,260)
5,230 (- 930)

Nationwide deaths - Seriously Ill:

12/05 (Wed)13/05 (Thu)14/05 (Fri)15/05 (Sat)16/05 (Son)17/05 (Mon)18/05 (Tue)
123 (+ 73) - 1,189 (+ 75)
101 (+ 54) -1,214 (+ 83)
90 (+ 22) - 1,209 1,131 (+ 78)
110 (- 3) - 1,231 (+ 100)
98 (- 23) - 1,223 (+ 79)
45 (- 8) - 1,227 (+ 75)
83 (- 26) - 1,235 (+ 58)

Infections in selected prefectures:

12/05 (Wed)13/05 (Thu)14/05 (Fri)15/05 (Sat)16/05 (Son)17/05 (Mon)18/05 (Tue)
Aichi
679 (+ 455)
624 (+ 334)
598 (+ 155)
596 (+ 21)
522 (+ 49)
362 (- 64)
539 (- 39)
Chiba
181 (+ 60)
171 (+ 60)
169 (+ 70)
140 (- 22)
135 (- 17)
128 (-44)
89 (- 30)
Fukuoka
635 (+ 298)
502 (+ 243)
472 (+- 0)​
522 (+ 3)
505 (- 24)
282 (- 90)
346 (- 58)
Hokkaido
529 (+ 348)
712 (+ 392)
593 (+ 345)
566 (+ 163)
491 (- 15)
372 (- 37)
533 (+ 112)
Hyogo
384 (+ 53)
361 (+ 80)
314 (- 179)
299 (- 269)
267 (- 99)
120 (- 151)
249 (- 128)
Kanagawa
319 (+ 167)
337 (+ 113)
340 (+ 110)
328 (+ 25)
296 (- 42)
199 (- 38)
248 (- 29)
Miyagi
53 (+ 39)
18 (- 14)
33 (- 4)
32 (- 15)
31 (- 1)
24 (- 1)
31 (- 2)
Okinawa
109 (+ 46)
126 (+ 87)
134 (+ 52)
160 (+ 67)
78 (-25)
59 (+ 45)
168 (+ 36)
Osaka
851 (+ 183)
761 (+ 14)
576 (- 429)
785 (- 236)
620 (- 254
382 (- 286)
509 (- 465)
Saitama
259 (+ 94)
289 (+ 110)
257 (+ 19)
246 (- 39)
216 (- 63)
135 (- 20)
186 (- 92)
Tokyo
969 (+ 348)
1,010 (+ 419)
854 (- 53)
772 (- 349)
542 (- 490)
419 (- 154)
732 (- 193)

 

thomas

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And in other news:

Japan is still struggling to get its vaccination campaign off the ground. Taro Kono, the so-called vaccine czar, blamed Japan's slow drug approval system for the delays, conveniently omitting that it's him in charge of improving things.

Pfizer started its Japan trial in October, recruiting 160 volunteers to take its vaccine. AstraZeneca PLC, which is still being considered by domestic regulators, started its vaccine trial earlier with 256 subjects. But trials involving such small numbers of people are "really meaningless", said Takahiro Kinoshita, a Japanese physician and researcher based in Boston. Global trials involve enough Asian subjects to ensure safety in their genotype, Kinoshita said. Japan's trials, lengthy reviews and slow rollouts stem from public fears about vaccines that have undermined previous inoculation campaigns for HPV and other diseases. "Everything is connected to vaccine hesitancy behavior," he said.

Local governments have finally started to set up mass vaccination sites. However, after weeks of utter chaos surrounding communal vaccine reservations, the public booking system run by the Ministry of Defense crashed. A software glitch allowed reservations to be made using nonexistent application numbers. Defence minister Nobuo Kishi pledged to straighten things out.

And weeks after it's been announced for the first time, the government is still thinking about letting pharmacists and perhaps dentists administer COVID-19 vaccines.

The government will study such an option after seeing whether the addition of dentists will be enough to mitigate the dearth of doctors and nurses who deliver the vaccines, Taro Kono said at a press conference.
 

thomas

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Japan has given "preliminary approval" to the Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines. I am not sure why, but according to Health Minister Norihisa Tamura, the approval will help speed up inoculations. Japan has administered one or more vaccine doses to roughly 5 million people, some 4% of the population.

 

thomas

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Interesting results: according to a Japanese study, some 97% of Covid-19 patients still had antibodies one year after their recovery from the infection.

But, the team also found that the antibody prevalence rate was lower among individuals with mild or no symptoms, and that the proportion of those with antibodies effective against mutant strains was also lower than those with antibodies that could fight the conventional strain. Takeharu Yamanaka, a professor of biostatistics at the university, said, "Even if there are enough antibodies to prevent infection after a year, the overall amount is decreasing. It is presumably the same for vaccinations, so it may be desirable to revaccinate after about a year."

 

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Finally, the vaccine rollout starts rolling: yesterday, Tokyo and Osaka opened mass vaccination centres, more cities and regions will follow.

The two facilities are estimated to have a combined capability of administering up to 15,000 shots a day, contributing to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s goal of making 1 million shots per day available to the older population. The administration aims to get the entirety of Japan’s 36 million residents age 65 or older fully vaccinated by the end of July.



The Japanese government seems to be inclined to extend the SoE:

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato indicated that if extended, a new deadline for the nine prefectures could coincide with the June 20 expiration date for Okinawa.


According to medical professionals in Osaka, the city's medical system is on the brink of collapse:

Osaka Prefecture, home to 9 million people, is suffering the brunt of the fourth wave of the pandemic, accounting for a third of the nation’s death toll in May, although it constitutes just 7% of its population. The speed at which Osaka’s health care system was overwhelmed underscores the challenges of hosting a major global sports event in two months’ time, particularly as only about half of Japan’s medical staff are fully vaccinated. “Simply put, this is a collapse of the medical system,” said Yuji Tohda, the director of Kindai University Hospital in Osaka. “The highly infectious British variant and slipping alertness have led to this explosive growth in the number of patients.”


And this is just in: the U.S. State Department is warning Americans against travelling to Japan.

 
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