Two national COVID-19 mass vaccination centers opened in Tokyo and Osaka on Monday, marking a key moment in the government’s bid to expedite Japan’s slow-starting inoculation campaign for older residents, Tomohiro Osaki reports.

Aichi, Miyagi and Gunma prefectures opened up their own mass inoculation facilities for older residents the same day, offering the newly approved Moderna jab. Tokyo Dome may also be set up as a vaccination center from August, Yomiuri Giants owner Toshikazu Yamaguchi said.

With daily new COVID-19 cases dropping across most of the country but the medical system still struggling to cope, the government plans to extend the coronavirus state of emergency in nine prefectures beyond May 31, sources say.

Japan's Osaka city buckles under COVID-19 surge | REUTERS
Japan’s Osaka city buckles under COVID-19 surge | REUTERS

Over in Osaka, hospitals are buckling under a huge wave of new coronavirus infections and running out of beds and ventilators as exhausted doctors warn of a “system collapse,” Reuters reports.

Nationally, more than half of the nurses working at coronavirus hospital wards have thought about quitting their jobs, citing high levels of stress and concerns about getting infected, a recent survey found.

Yesterday’s (and last Monday’s) new COVID-19 cases nationwide: 2,708 (3,680). By prefecture (80 or over; bold indicates rise over last week): Hokkaido 366 (372), Tokyo 340 (419), Aichi 280 (362), Kanagawa 219 (199), Osaka 216 (382), Fukuoka 195 (282), Okinawa 104 (59), Hiroshima 103 (198), Hyogo 86 (120), Saitama 83 (135), Chiba 82 (128). Source: Japan COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker