The government on May 25 lifted the state of emergency declared over COVID-19 as the number of new infections with the novel coronavirus decreased to mere dozens per day. While the risk of the second wave is imminent, it seems that Japan, to a large extent, has successfully minimized COVID-19-related deaths without introducing a strict lockdown or a broad testing policy during what is considered to be the first wave of the pandemic. How was this possible?

The success in this first phase was largely underpinned by a proper understanding of the transmission dynamics through identifying clusters — groups of infected people from a single source — by finding case links through investigations by local public health centers.

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