Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura said Monday he plans to ask the government to designate the prefecture as an area requiring stronger anti-virus measures based on a recently revised law, saying it has already entered the “fourth wave” of cases. Steps would include making masks compulsory for diners at restaurants (though presumably not while eating).

Looking to prevent coronavirus infections — particularly new variants — being imported from abroad, Japan introduced a new location-tracking app this month to make sure that those quarantining actually do so. Magdalena Osumi looks at how the app is supposed to work, and whether it does.

At Haneda airport, All Nippon Airways has begun Japan’s first trial of another app, CommonPass, one of a number of digital health passports now being tested worldwide in a bid to make travel easier and safer. The Nikkei has reported that Japan is planning to issue digital health certificates to citizens who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, in line with other countries.

An All Nippon Airways Co. staff member (right) checks the CommonPass app indicating a traveler's COVID-19 status at Tokyo's Haneda Airport on Monday during a trial. | KYODO
An All Nippon Airways Co. staff member checks the CommonPass app indicating a traveler’s COVID-19 status at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport on Monday during a trial. | KYODO

Also Monday, vaccine minister Taro Kono said that the pace of coronavirus inoculation in Japan will accelerate in May, when he expects deliveries to hit 10 million doses a week. The government will also let people choose which vaccine to get, an official said Sunday, by advertising which site is giving which jab, although right now only the Pfizer shot has been approved.

The health ministry has just released a draft COVID-19 vaccination form and letters of notice translated into 12 languages on its website for foreign residents who have difficulty understanding Japanese, Osumi reports. Residents will receive the documents in Japanese by post and can use the site as a guide to fill in the form if needed.

Monday’s (and last Monday’s) new COVID-19 cases by prefecture (30 or over): Tokyo 234 (187), Osaka 213 (79), Chiba 110 (97), Saitama 102 (60), Kanagawa 93 (56), Miyagi 80 (42), Hyogo 70 (23), Hokkaido 46 (50), Okinawa 42 (18), Aichi 39 (31). Source: Japan COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker