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COVID-19 Coronavirus: situation in Japan

thomas

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If I’d condemn the alcohol, I’d be a blatant hypocrite myself, lol. However, boozing in the heat makes people drop their guard. I thought about stopping and taking a photo but I didn’t want to expose myself to a potential cluster.

@ authorities: had their been police present they would have acted as a deterrent, at least. 🤷‍♂️
 

Lothor

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If I’d condemn the alcohol, I’d be a blatant hypocrite myself, lol. However, boozing in the heat makes people drop their guard. I thought about stopping and taking a photo but I didn’t want to expose myself to a potential cluster.

@ authorities: had their been police present they would have acted as a deterrent, at least. 🤷‍♂️
I've been reading a bit about limiting alcohol and its effect on the spread of Covid, South Africa being the most interesting country with both the strictest measures and a particularly bad alcohol problem (during the apartheid era, some black workers were even paid in alcohol!). It cited gave many incidental benefits of the ban - fewer alcohol-related casualties in hospitals, either through accidents, alcohol poisoning, or alcohol-fueled violence - that certainly reduced pressure on hospitals dealing with alcohol victims, but I wasn't able to find any studies giving evidence that it reduced the spread of Covid. I'm very uncomfortable with the government argument that people will let their guard down and be careless after a few drinks as a justification for an outright ban on selling alcohol in bars, which has had an enormous effect on many people. It's not very scientific, is it? The spread of a disease is mainly a scientific problem and since all measures are going to have some adverse effects on people's livelihoods, we need to base our arguments on more scientific evidence. Alcohol probably makes the situation worse, but I feel it is being used as a scapegoat in Japan so that the government don't have to make more difficult and urgently needed decisions on how to control the spread of the pandemic.

I only had about four drinks through the whole of July, so I'm arguing for rationality rather than out of self-interest!



 
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Uncle Frank

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One thing I don't understand. Here in the US , besides getting the shot , they make mask wearing seem like the holy grail of protection. It seems almost every picture I see in Japan , 99% of the people are wearing a mask , but the virus is still spreading like wildfire. Is the spread because of the lack of vaccinated people? If mask use is so important , why isn't it helping more there?
 

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One thing I don't understand. Here in the US , besides getting the shot , they make mask wearing seem like the holy grail of protection. It seems almost every picture I see in Japan , 99% of the people are wearing a mask , but the virus is still spreading like wildfire. Is the spread because of the lack of vaccinated people? If mask use is so important , why isn't it helping more there?
It's a complicated problem, but until recently, Japan was doing relatively well (though I'm sceptical of the official figures about the number of deaths and cases) despite relatively few restrictions on everyday life. It could be argued that this was largely because of mask use. I'm seeing more people without masks these days (maybe mask use is down to 90%), though I'm not sure why - a sense of security by vaccinated people, the heat, or a feeling of futility - by the end of August, people in Tokyo will have been under almost continuous measures for about 8 months but we're at the highest number of new cases ever. I think the spread is mainly due to the increased infectiousness of the delta variant.
 
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Majestic

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The US had something like 101,000 new covid cases reported on July 30th.
The US has about 3x the population of Japan, so you would expect Japan to have roughly 33,000 new cases on July 30th.
In fact, Japan had 10,743 new cases reported. So for all of the reporting on the surge in cases in Japan, Japan is doing much better than the US - and I think some of this is due to Japan's widespread use of masks. I mean, the state of Florida alone has more new covid cases than the entire country of Japan.
 

thomas

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Here are the weekly updates (28 July - 3 August). The numbers speak for themselves.


Nationwide infections:

28/07 (Wed)29/07 (Thu)30/07 (Fri)31/07 (Sat)01/08 (Son)02/08 (Mon)03/08 (Tue)
9,576 (+ 4,633)
10,699 (+ 5,302)
10,744 (+ 6,519)
12,341 (+ 8,767)
10,177 (+ 5,157)
8,393 (+ 3,701)
12,017 (+ 4,388)

Nationwide deaths - Seriously Ill:

28/07 (Wed)29/07 (Thu)30/07 (Fri)31/07 (Sat)01/08 (Son)02/08 (Mon)03/08 (Tue)
14 (- 6) - 522 (+ 132)
14 (+ 8) - 539 (+ 147)
14 (+ 6) - 626 (+ 195)
14 (+ 6) - 667 (+ 231)
5 (+ 1) - 691 (+ 243)
5 (- 7) - 704 (+ 238)
7 (- 5) - 754 (+ 240)

Infections in selected prefectures:

28/07 (Wed)29/07 (Thu)30/07 (Fri)31/07 (Sat)01/08 (Son)02/08 (Mon)03/08 (Tue)
Aichi
265 (+ 156)
250 (+ 104)
230 (+ 161)
287 (+ 218)
231 (+ 122)
147 (+ 77)
258 (+ 84)
Chiba
577 (+ 275)
576 (+ 233)
753 (+ 419)
792 (+ 491)
767 (+ 488)
787 (+ 278)
781 (+ 376)
Fukuoka
405 (+ 269)
366 (+ 227)
478 (+ 326)
504 (+ 405)
434 (+ 272)
358 (+ 186)
510 (+ 274)
Hokkaido
227 (+ 109)
260 (+ 120)
250 (+ 171)
284 (+ 166)
267 (+ 154)
217 (+ 80)
211 (+ 73)
Hyogo
254 (+ 134)
280 (+ 131)
265 (+ 204)
329 (+ 207)
317 (+ 179)
165 (+ 90)
441 (+ 181)
Kanagawa
1,051 (+ 529)
1,164 (+ 533)
1,418 (+ 766)
1,580 (+ 1,033)
1,258 (+ 727)
1,686 (+ 1,146)
1,298 (+ 540)
Okinawa
347 (+ 178)
392 (+ 239)
382 (+ 282)
439 (+ 340)
367 (+ 158)
209 (+ 93)
467 (+ 113)
Osaka
798 (+ 307)
932 (+ 471)
882 (+ 503)
1,040 (+ 757)
890 (+ 419)
448 (+ 74)
1,079 (+ 338)
Saitama
870 (+ 489)
864 (+ 354)
853 (+ 452)
1,036 (+ 691)
899 (+ 450)
762 (+ 313)
1,053 (+ 460)
Tokyo
3,177 (+ 1,345)
3,865 (+ 1,886)
3,300 (+ 1,941)
4,058 (+ 2,930)
3,058 (+ 1,295)
2,195 (+ 766)
3,709 (+ 861)

Vaccinations as of 2 August 2021:

90.8m (+ 9.8m); fully vaccinated: 38.8m (+ 5.4m) (30.7%)

 

thomas

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We are still waiting for the nationwide numbers; however, Tokyo saw record numbers of new infections yesterday (4,166) and today (5,042). Pre-emergency measures will be expanded to eight more prefectures (Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Shizuoka, Aichi, Shiga and Kumamoto). Experts predict that the daily infection rates in Tokyo will surpass 10,000 by 18 August, probably factoring in the Obon holidays.

 

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My colleagues in Tokyo all got their second shots this week, organized via the company. So I'm glad the vaccine rollout has reached to the younger salaryman level. That should help.
 

thomas

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My colleagues in Tokyo all got their second shots this week, organized via the company. So I'm glad the vaccine rollout has reached to the younger salaryman level. That should help.

Some have suggested that the younger generations should have been targeted first, as they spend more time outside than the elderly.

I am glad that next week, my wife and I will finally receive our first shot at her company.


Japan has started to name and shame those disregarding anti-virus measures. With little success.

The Japanese government has named three people this week who broke quarantine rules after returning from overseas in an attempt to shame others into complying with anti-virus measures. The authorities are hoping to tap into traits, such as the sense of collective and the importance of not breaking social norms, that Japan is known for. However, fatigue from prolonged states of emergency and ire at quarantine exceptions made for Olympic athletes may mean the “name and shame” policy has limited effect, or will even backfire. The names – but no other details – of the three rule-breakers who are reported to have avoided contact with authorities during their 14-day mandatory quarantine were announced on Monday. Some social media users attempted to identify the trio but there was little public outcry. “If the publicising of people’s names makes them ashamed, then that will work on Japanese people,” said Masafumi Usui, a professor of social psychology at Niigata Seiryo University. “But it depends not on the rules or laws, but how people in society react. If the rules are seen as proper and correct, and people break them, they will feel dishonour and shame.

 

thomas

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Japan confirmed the first case of the lambda variant in a woman who'd arrived from Peru.

The variant was detected in a woman in her 30s at Haneda Airport who arrived from Peru on July 20, according to the ministry. She tested positive for the coronavirus in a quarantine check at the airport, with no symptoms. The virus was confirmed to be of the lambda variant in an analysis by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases. According to the institute, the lambda variant was first detected in Peru in August last year and has been spreading in South America. Compared with the conventional strain, the variant may be more infectious and have stronger resistance to vaccines, but its details are not known, the institute said.


More on the lambda variant:

SARS-CoV-2 Lambda, a new variant of interest, is now spreading in some South American countries; however, its virological features and evolutionary trait remain unknown. Here we reveal that the spike protein of the Lambda variant is more infectious and it is attributed to the T76I and L452Q mutations. The RSYLTPGD246-253N mutation, a unique 7-amino-acid deletion mutation in the N-terminal domain of the Lambda spike protein, is responsible for evasion from neutralizing antibodies. Since the Lambda variant has dominantly spread according to the increasing frequency of the isolates harboring the RSYLTPGD246-253N mutation, our data suggest that the insertion of the RSYLTPGD246-253N mutation is closely associated with the massive infection spread of the Lambda variant in South America.

 

thomas

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The weekly updates (04-10 August 2021):


Nationwide infections:

04/08 (Wed)05/08 (Thu)06/08 (Fri)07/08 (Sat)08/08 (Son)09/08 (Mon)10/08 (Tue)
14,207 (+ 4,631)
15,263 (+ 4,564)
15,645 (+ 4,901)
15,753 (+ 3,412)
14,472 (+ 4,295)
12,061 (+ 3,668)
10,574 (- 1,443)

Nationwide deaths - Seriously Ill:

04/08 (Wed)05/08 (Thu)06/08 (Fri)07/08 (Sat)08/08 (Son)09/08 (Mon)10/08 (Tue)
15 (+ 1) - 777 (+ 255)
9 (- 5) - 823 (+ 284)
12 (- 2) - 1,020 (+ 394)
15 (+ 1) - 1,068 (+ 401)
18 (+ 13) - 1,138 (+ 447)
7 (+ 2) - 1,190 (+ 486)
17 (+ 10) - 1,230 (+ 476)

Infections in selected prefectures:

04/08 (Wed)05/08 (Thu)06/08 (Fri)07/08 (Sat)08/08 (Son)09/08 (Mon)10/08 (Tue)
Aichi
376 (+ 111)
364 (+ 114)
387 (+ 157)
459 (+ 172)
375 (+ 144)
256 (+ 109)
259 (+ 1)
Chiba
840 (+ 263)
942 (+ 366)
1,057 (+ 304)
1,075 (+ 283)
988 (+ 221)
952 (+ 165)
860 (+ 79)
Fukuoka
752 (+ 347)
718 (+ 352)
840 (+ 362)
742 (+ 238)
434 (+ 272)
625 (+ 267)
458 (- 52)
Hokkaido
366 (+ 139)
342 (+ 82)
283 (+ 33)
347 (+ 63)
308 (+ 41)
217 (+ 80)
347 (+ 136)
Hyogo
422 (+ 168)
459 (+ 179)
477 (+ 212)
503 (+ 174)
450 (+ 133)
310 (+ 145)
228 (- 213)
Kanagawa
1,484 (+ 433)
1,846 (+ 682)
2,082 (+ 664)
1,893 (+ 313)
1,860 (+ 602)
2,166 (+ 480)
1,572 (+ 274)
Okinawa
602 (+ 255)
648 (+ 256)
565 (+ 183)
548 (+ 109)
574 (+ 207)
332 (+ 123)
332 (- 135)
Osaka
1,224 (+ 426)
1,085 (+ 153)
1,310 (+ 428)
1,123 (+ 83)
1,164 (+ 274)
995 (+ 574)
697 (- 382)
Saitama
1,200 (+ 330)
1,235 (+ 371)
1,220 (+ 367)
1,449 (+ 413)
1,364 (+ 465)
1,160 (+ 398)
1,166 (+ 113)
Tokyo
4,166 (+ 989)
5,042 (+ 1,177)
4,515 (+ 1,215)
4,566 (+ 508)
4,066 (+ 1,008)
2,884 (+ 689)
2,612 (- 1,097)

Vaccinations as of 9 August 2021:

103m (+ 12.2m); fully vaccinated: 43.3m (+ 4.5m) (34.3%)

 

thomas

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No respite in sight on the Corona front: yesterday's numbers aren't very encouraging. Tokyo reported 5,723 new infections, and the nationwide tally exceeded 20,000 for the first time. The number of serious cases in Tokyo reached its highest level ever, at 227.

covidjapan-13082021.png



The current surge in cases is driven by the new Delta variant of the virus and puts the medical system under severe strain.

The Tojun Hospital in Adachi Ward, Tokyo, allocated six beds for suspected COVID-19 patients, but those have filled since July, forcing the hospital to turn down requests to accept new patients. “It’s difficult to secure any more beds than this,” said Masashi Ito, 65, the director of the hospital. “We are reaching the limit of what we can do.” The occupancy rate of hospital beds in Tokyo had reached 61.5% as of Thursday, up 28 points from July 12 when the fourth state of emergency was declared for the capital. The rate for beds allocated for seriously ill COVID-19 patients was at 55.6%, based on the Tokyo metropolitan government’s criteria. The figures suggest that there is capacity to spare, but according to a source at a university hospital in Tokyo, many hospitals lack the staff to deal with seriously ill patients, making it difficult to accept new patients. Medical treatment for non-COVID-19 maladies has also been affected. In late July, the metropolitan government asked medical institutions in Tokyo to postpone non-urgent surgeries and take other actions to secure more beds for COVID-19 patients. Some hospitals have postponed scheduled procedures or scaled down regular medical services.

In one case, a 50-year-old COVID-19 patient was turned away by around 100 hospitals in Tokyo before being admitted to a clinic some 50 kilometres away.

The first case of the Lambda variant in Japan has been traced back to a woman from Peru who entered Japan on 20 July and is linked to the Olympics.

Meanwhile, it is still unclear how resistant the Lambda variant is to vaccines:

Research by a team from the University of Tokyo, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, found that three mutations in Lambda's spike protein help it resist neutralization by vaccine-induced antibodies. Meanwhile, two mutations in the Lambda variant - T76I and L452Q - make it more infectious than the COVID variant that swept through the world in 2020. The conclusions of the study posted on BiorXiv on July 28 matched findings—also not yet peer-reviewed—by a team in Chile that found the variant might also evade vaccine antibodies, Infection Control reported.[...] However, the Japanese researchers said that the threat of the variant might be underestimated given that it was only named as a "variant of concern." "Lambda can be a potential threat to the human society," senior researcher Kei Sato of the University of Tokyo said, according to Reuters.

 

thomas

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@thomas Minor point , but I like the map in this most recent post much better than the previous tables.

The graphic was taken from here.

I do realise that the table display on the forum is (graphically) limited and not as aesthetically pleasing, but we compare the weekly trends, while #JapanCovid presents the daily stats. I simply don't have the time to produce something equivalent. :(
 

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thomas

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It seems Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases has been raising the alarm for days after that woman's test results had come in, but the Health Ministry Ministry of Health waited with the announcement until the morning of 6 August.

 

thomas

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The Japanese government still seems to believe in the efficiency of SoEs: it looks as if the current SoE will be extended until mid-September. Seven prefectures, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Shizuoka, Kyoto, Hyogo and Fukuoka, will be added to the list.



A Japanese doctor and assistant professor at the medical department of Georgetown University is using social media to bridge the gap between the public's perception of the coronavirus and that of the medical profession. His Twitter and IG posts quickly went viral in Japan.

kosuke-yasukawa(1).jpg



 

thomas

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The weekly updates (11-17 August 2021):


Nationwide infections:

11/08 (Wed)12/08 (Thu)13/08 (Fri)14/08 (Sat)15/08 (Son)16/08 (Mon)17/08 (Tue)
15,813 (+ 1,606)
18,822 (+ 3,559)
20,365 (+ 4,720)
20,151 (+ 4,398)
17,832 (+ 4,360)
14,854 (+ 2,793)
19,955 (+ 9,381)

Nationwide deaths - Seriously Ill:

11/08 (Wed)12/08 (Thu)13/08 (Fri)14/08 (Sat)15/08 (Son)16/08 (Mon)17/08 (Tue)
14 (- 1) - 1,332 (+ 555)
24 (+ 15) - 1,404 (+ 581)
28 (+ 16) - 1,478 (+ 458)
25 (+ 10) - 1,521 (+ 453)
17 (- 1) - 1,563 (+ 425)
8 (+ 1) - 1,603 (+ 413)
23 (+ 5) - 1,646 (+ 416)

Infections in selected prefectures:

11/08 (Wed)12/08 (Thu)13/08 (Fri)14/08 (Sat)15/08 (Son)16/08 (Mon)17/08 (Tue)
Aichi
516 (+ 140)
703 (+ 339)
638 (+ 251)
698 (+ 239)
609 (+ 234)
571 (+ 315)
967 (+ 708)
Chiba
955 (+ 115)
1,038 (+ 96)
1,089 (+ 32)
1,272 (+ 197)
1,374 (+ 386)
1,609 (+ 657)
1,304 (+ 444)
Fukuoka
737 (- 15)
1,040 (+ 322)
951 (+ 111)
890 (+ 148)
681 (+ 247)
683 (+ 58)
716 (+ 258)
Hokkaido
351 (- 15)
480 (+ 138)
454 (+ 171)
479 (+ 132)
366 (+ 58)
357 (+ 140)
410 (+ 63)
Hyogo
608 (+ 186)
728 (+ 269)
680 (+ 203)
628 (+ 125)
517 (+ 67)
402 (+ 92)
853 (+ 625)
Kanagawa
1,565 (+ 81)
1,807 (- 39)
2,281 (+ 199)
2,356 (+ 463)
2.081 (+ 221)
2,584 (+ 418)
2,017 (+ 445)
Okinawa
638 (+ 36)
732 (+ 84)
721 (+ 156)
479 (- 69)
661 (+ 87)
339 (+ 7)
684 (+ 352)
Osaka
1,490 (+ 266)
1,654 (+ 569)
1,561 (+ 251)
1,828 (+ 705)
1,764 (+ 600)
964 (- 31)
1,856 (+ 1,159)
Saitama
1,227 (+ 27)
1,528 (+ 293)
1,696 (+ 476)
1,800 (+ 351)
1,773 (+ 409)
1,301 (+ 141)
1,634 (+ 468)
Tokyo
4,200 (+ 34)
4,989 (- 53)
5,773 (+ 1,258)
5,094 (+ 528)
4,295 (+ 229)
2,962 (+ 78)
4,377 (+ 1,765)

Vaccinations as of 16 August 2021:

111m (+ 8m); fully vaccinated: 47.8m (+ 4.5m) (37.9% of population)




In other news:
  • Osaka reported 2,296 infections, its first single-day number over 2000 and a record high; other "records": Fukuoka (1,253), Aichi (1,227), Hyogo (1,088), Okinawa (761), Shizuoka (590), Gifu (338), Gunma (314), Okayama (307), Hiroshima (302), Mie (276), Oita (162), Nagano (152), Miyazaki (125), Toyama (121), Yamaguchi (105) and Yamanashi (93)
  • Nationwide: 23,917 cases
  • Okinawa saw its biggest cluster ever, 166 people who got infected in a hospital; 64 died (news in Japanese and in English)
  • NHK reported a shortage of oxygen enrichers (news in Japanese)
Nurses struggle to support those fighting the virus at home:

As of Aug. 11, 74,135 patients with COVID-19 are recuperating at home across the nation, according to the health ministry, jumping to 13 times the number four weeks earlier. The patients were fighting the disease at home due to public health centers assessing their symptoms as mild or not serious enough to require hospitalization as health care systems around the country are at near full capacity for accepting patients. Most of the patients battling the virus at home, more than 60 percent, are in the Tokyo metropolitan area, including Kanagawa Prefecture. An alarming fact about patients with COVID-19 is that mild or moderate symptoms can worsen abruptly and become fatal. In Tokyo, the deaths of seven patients have been reported so far in August alone, including a man in his 30s with no underlying health conditions.


At least once a day, local government officials check the temperature of these patients by phone or smartphone application, and also check the status of their breathing and if they have symptoms including a cough, general malaise, nausea or diarrhea. Symptoms to watch out for as signs of a worsening situation include purple lips, increased breathing rate, sudden difficulty breathing, chest pains, an inability to breathe without sitting down, clouding of consciousness, and an abnormal pulse. If the patients themselves or those living with them, such as family members, notice any of these signs, they should immediately contact their local government office. Coronavirus patients sometimes do not feel like they are suffocating even when their blood oxygen levels drop as symptoms progress. For this reason, the central government will improve the distribution of pulse oximeters, which measure oxygen saturation levels. Infectious disease experts call for caution when there is a sudden drop in blood oxygen levels, such as when they fall below 95% in home care patients.

 
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This hasn't really been a good year to go cycling and camping around Japan. Here I was going to go to Shikoku once this rain stops, but now the figures are bad and probably the campgrounds are closed.
 

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This hasn't really been a good year to go cycling and camping around Japan. Here I was going to go to Shikoku once this rain stops, but now the figures are bad and probably the campgrounds are closed.
I think that in Japan people's perceptions of risk have changed, and that going on a holiday where you are traveling in a way that doesn't interact much with others (cycling and camping) will not be considered a major risk, unlike during the early days of the pandemic. I assume that you've also been double jabbed, so I'd go for it.
 

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Here in the US , they are starting to promote a booster shot already. Wish I had bought stock in the drug companies a few years back. I think for now I'll hold off on the booster till it has been one year since I got my first shots. It would be nice if they could combine the yearly flu shot with a covid booster so all in one.
 

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Tokyo continues to see over 5,000 cases of new infections daily. There are signs that the medical system is facing more and more of a crunch. The number of patients recuperating at home who were refused ambulance services increased in the past week. Less than 10 per cent of Tokyo's Coronavirus patients can be accommodated in a hospital (though most cases are relatively mild).

“The situation in Tokyo is out of control,” said Norio Omagari, director of the Disease Control and Prevention Center under the National Center for Global Health and Medicine who is a member of an expert panel advising the metropolitan government on the crisis. Just a month ago, on July 20, the figure stood at 25.2 percent. But on Aug. 20, health experts put the figure at 9.5 percent as of Aug. 18, “an extremely low level” in the words of one panel member. However, the usage ratio of hospital beds set aside for COVID-19 patients with serious symptoms approached 90 percent, leading the experts to warn that if the current trend of surging infections continues, the capital’s medical care structure will be overrun and lives that might have been saved could be lost.


Medical experts warned that the number of undetected cases might skyrocket due to the rampant spread of COVID-19 in Tokyo. They also criticise the low number of tests conducted. Tokyo Metropolitan Government claimed they could conduct 97,000 tests a day; today, around 13,000 people were tested.


The latest data for Tokyo is available here:

 

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Wife said Kanagawa numbers were really high, too. Ishikawa has fallen back a little.
 

thomas

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Wife said Kanagawa numbers were really high, too. Ishikawa has fallen back a little.

Yes, that's true: over 2,800 yesterday and 2,700 today. Vaccinations have been really slow in Yokohama.
 
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