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The number of new COVID-19 cases confirmed each day in Japan is continuing to fall, even after the full lifting of the government’s state of emergency at the end of last month, a health ministry advisory board has said.

The panel expressed the view at its meeting Wednesday, but also warned that new infections “may decrease at a slower pace or stop falling from now on, as the number of people going out at night is increasing at many places in the country.”

A Nagasaki University survey on 890 people age 16 to 64 who took COVID-19 tests in July and August has found that the vaccines made by Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. were 86.8 % effective in preventing COVID-19 symptoms from appearing in those who had received two doses of either of the vaccines. The results of the survey were submitted to the advisory board meeting.

According to an estimate by Kyoto University professor Hiroshi Nishiura, COVID-19 vaccinations helped some 650,000 people avoid infection while curbing fatalities by about 7,200 between March and September.

The advisory board stressed the importance of maintaining the current situation, of only limited infections, for as long as possible and of reducing the number of new cases further. The panel also said that it will continue discussions on why the number of new cases has plummeted recently, noting that “a further analysis is needed.”

In the week to Tuesday, the number of new infections per 100,000 people stood at 4.12 nationwide, down from 6.91 in the preceding week.

By prefecture, the number came to 5.01 in Tokyo, down from 9.14. Among three of the prefectures neighboring the capital, the count fell to 3.80 from 7.96 in Saitama, to 3.98 from 7.27 in Chiba and to 5.25 from 7.32 in Kanagawa.

The weekly figure remained high in Osaka Prefecture, at 10.46, and in Okinawa Prefecture, at 9.64. Still, the numbers were down from 16.97 and 20.17, respectively, the prior week.

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