As new coronavirus cases in Tokyo hit a monthly high, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared Wednesday that he intends to lift the nation’s last remaining COVID-19 state of emergency — covering the capital and three neighboring prefectures — on schedule Monday, reports Satoshi Sugiyama.
The government previously stated that, in order to cancel the state of emergency, the rate of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients in the prefectures would need to fall below 50% and there would need to be a continued downward trend in new cases.
While all four prefectures have met the first benchmark, new cases registered in the capital — and across Japan — both hit their highest level since Feb. 18 on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Miyagi Prefecture logged a record 107 new cases.
As Japan prepares to expand its vaccine rollout to the general population, 62.1% of respondents to a recent survey said they were willing to give it a shot. But there were notable demographic differences: 56.4% of women were happy to get a jab, compared to 68% of men; just 54.5% of those aged between 20 and 49 were prepared to be vaccinated, well below the 74.5% for the 65-plus crowd.
The wait for a Japanese vaccine, meanwhile, goes on. Shionogi & Co. is unlikely to start shipping the COVID-19 vaccine it’s developing by the end of the year, as it’s having trouble finding participants for large-scale trials, given that so many people are already receiving other vaccines, sources say.
Wednesday’s (and last Wednesday’s) new COVID-19 cases by prefecture (40 or over): Tokyo 409 (340), Osaka 147 (84), Saitama 132 (135), Miyagi 107 (36), Kanagawa 93 (124), Chiba 91 (106), Hyogo 74 (41), Hokkaido 73 (65), Aichi 48 (44), Fukuoka 42 (49), Ibaraki 40 (33). Source: Japan COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker