On Jan. 16 2020, a man who returned to Japan after visiting Wuhan was found to be infected with the novel coronavirus, marking the nation’s first case of COVID-19. A year on, Japan finds itself in the middle of a third wave of infections with no end in sight.
Japan’s best hope for a way out of the crisis lies with mass vaccinations. Health minister Norihisa Tamura said Friday he’s hoping Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine will be approved by mid-February under an accelerated process, although this will be two months after many other countries began giving jabs.
In the meantime, Hiroshima Prefecture is considering conducting free virus testing of up to 800,000 people in what would be the largest such campaign in the country, as it struggles to contain its recent rise in infections. The drive would target all residents and workers in the heart of the city of Hiroshima.
While some countries have been able to levy legal penalties for flouting lockdown rules aimed at stopping the spread of the virus, Japan has had to trust the public to heed government requests to hunker down during its second state of emergency. But as Reuters reports from Shimbashi in Tokyo, more people appear to be ignoring shutdown and stay-home requests this time than during last year’s SOE.
“There are many times we need to talk business over drinks,” said one company boss as he headed to a bar with his business partner. “I don’t think you can put a cut-off time on that.”
Sunday’s (and Saturday’s) new COVID-19 cases by prefecture (50 or over): Tokyo 1,592 (1,809), Kanagawa 795 (830), Osaka 464 (629), Saitama 433 (582), Chiba 428 (503), Fukuoka 300 (411), Hyogo 289 (265), Aichi 218 (323), Kyoto 154 (140), Hokkaido 124 (192), Ibaraki 89 (106), Okinawa 89 (130), Shizuoka 67 (86), Tochigi 54 (96), Gunma 54 (90), Gifu 52 (89), Nagano 52 (61). Source: Japan COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker