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If you were still in any doubt, now it’s semi-official: Shigeru Omi, who heads a government panel of experts on the coronavirus pandemic, said Wednesday that Japan is in the middle of a fourth wave of infections.

More than 4,000 new cases of coronavirus were reported across the country on Wednesday for the first time since Jan. 28, when some areas including Tokyo were under a state of emergency. Osaka Prefecture reported a record 1,130 daily coronavirus cases.

Japan Medical Association President Toshio Nakagawa, meanwhile, urged the government to promptly declare a fresh state of emergency, only weeks after the last one fully ended. He warned the medical system in Osaka is beginning to collapse, making it difficult for people to receive necessary treatment.

Officials from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and local ward office stand near Shinjuku Station on Monday holding signs asking people to stay at home. | KYODO
Officials from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and local ward office stand near Shinjuku Station on Monday holding signs asking people to stay at home. | KYODO

A day earlier, Japan’s COVID-19 vaccine minister warned local governments against letting doses go to waste as the country expands its inoculation drive to older people. Several doses of Pfizer’s vaccine were discarded Monday due to last-minute cancellations.

Taro Kono suggested that local authorities can be flexible in using doses that become available due to no-shows, such as by allocating them to younger people or those who live outside their municipalities.

Wednesday’s (and last Wednesday’s) new COVID-19 cases by prefecture (70 or over): Osaka 1,130 (878), Tokyo 591 (555), Hyogo 507 (328), Aichi 216 (188), Kanagawa 205 (118), Fukuoka 156 (42), Saitama 145 (158), Okinawa 137 (155), Kyoto 125 (93), Chiba 97 (76), Miyagi 96 (118), Nara 94 (81), Hokkaido 77 (72). Source: Japan COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker

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