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A possible fourth wave of coronavirus infections may be on the way as numbers of new cases, including those involving variants, grow in many parts of Japan. A week after fully lifting the second COVID-19 emergency, the government will soon start full-fledged talks to impose pre-emergency restrictions.

The government is especially concerned over a surge in COVID-19 cases in Miyagi Prefecture and the Kansai region. In Miyagi, some experts are blaming the recent surge on the resumption of the Go To Eat program in late February.

Yet at the same time, the government plans to give cash to tourism initiatives aimed at local residents by prefectures with few virus cases, tourism minister Kazuyoshi Akaba said Friday. Under the plan, the government will give up to ¥7,000 per person per night for trips under the local initiatives. As for the Go To Travel program, that could restart in June, he said.

Spectators wearing face masks take photos and videos along the route of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay in the city of Fukushima on Friday. | REUTERS
Spectators wearing face masks take photos and videos along the route of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay in the city of Fukushima on Friday. | REUTERS

As of 5 p.m. Friday, 781,655 people in Japan had received their first COVID-19 vaccination shots, with 41,204 of those having received the second shot. Japan is in the process of inoculating some 4.8 million health care workers nationwide before the rollout to people age 65 and older from April 12.

As for that stage, about 40% of the nation’s major cities have yet to determine when they can finish vaccinating the 65-plus set, a survey shows, as vaccine supply details remain uncertain. The target date for cities that did have a schedule ranged from the end of June to March 2022.

Sunday’s (and last Sunday’s) new COVID-19 cases by prefecture (50 or over): Osaka 323 (100), Tokyo 313 (256), Miyagi 134 (112), Saitama 114 (79), Hyogo 93 (46), Chiba 92 (88), Aichi 86 (34), Hokkaido 74 (60), Okinawa 68 (24), Kanagawa 64 (77), Ibaraki 51 (22). Source: Japan COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker

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