Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura has asked the central government for permission to designate the prefecture’s capital as an area that needs stronger anti-virus measures following a sharp rebound in coronavirus infections. Osaka Prefecture reported 599 new cases Wednesday, far outpacing the 414 infections recorded in Tokyo.

A fourth wave of COVID-19 appears to be building in Japan mere weeks after the country began easing virus countermeasures. There were concerns that beginning to lift the state of emergency in early February in the nation’s most populated regions would trigger a viral rebound, but perhaps not so soon or in so many parts of the country.

Also, this time, regional outbreaks, compounded by fatigue over anti-virus measures and more contagious variants, are contributing to an altogether different kind of surge, writes Ryusei Takahashi.

Japan wants further probe into COVID-19 origins | WHO CORONA REPORT
Japan wants further probe into COVID-19 origins | WHO CORONA REPORT | WION

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization’s chief said a mission to study the origins of the coronavirus in China was too quick to dismiss the theory of a lab leak, with Japan and other governments joining in criticism of the probe.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the probe didn’t adequately analyze the possibility of a lab accident before deciding it is most likely the pathogen spread from bats to humans via another animal. On Tuesday, he said he is ready to deploy further missions to investigate.

Wednesday’s (and last Wednesday’s) new COVID-19 cases by prefecture (50 or over): Osaka 599 (262), Tokyo 414 (420), Hyogo 211 (118), Miyagi 200 (171), Saitama 152 (121), Kanagawa 137 (128), Okinawa 111 (68), Chiba 106 (108), Aichi 99 (74), Aomori 81 (7), Hokkaido 76 (81), Kyoto 57 (19). Source: Japan COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker