COVID-19 Fourth Wave Pounds Japan
Until this past summer, Japan was doing comparatively well in containing the spread of COVID 19 infections. But the emergence of the highly infectious Delta variant combined with slow progress on vaccinations and a nation increasingly fed up with ineffective “quasi-states of emergency” has led to the pandemic here rapidly heading in the wrong direction. By Mid-August Japan’s daily infection rates surged to the 25,000 level – a number three and a half times higher than prior waves. Compliance with government requests to stay at home has fallen dramatically. States of emergency have now been extended to 33 of Japan’s 47 prefectures. Infections in Tokyo are hovering at around 4,000 cases daily and other major urban centers are experiencing similar surges. The medical system is under severe strain, with most hospital beds in the Greater Tokyo area fully occupied. Due to the hospital bed shortage in Tokyo, a total of 35,000 Covid patients are being treated at home. That said, vaccinations are gaining momentum with 42% currently fully vaccinated. The government is targeting to reach a target of 60% fully vaccinated by the end of September. As with many other jurisdictions from around the world, Japan is struggling to get an upper hand over its fourth wave.