The Covid epidemic has rebounded violently, and Japan's economy and society are facing huge pressure
2022-08-08: [Article Link]
□ Reporter of this newspaper, Suning
In recent days, the situation of Covid-19 Pandemic in Japan has deteriorated rapidly and the number of new cases per day has increased as a result, inter alia, of the accelerated spread of the Omicron mutation strain BA.5. As Japan enters the “seventh wave” epidemic cycle, for two weeks in a row, it is the country with the largest number of covid-19 diagnoses in the world, and the health system is overburdened. The growing number of cases is close to 250,000.
In August, the epidemic in Japan continued to operate at a high level. In Japan, nearly 250,000 new cases were reported to have been diagnosed in Covid-19 on 3 August, again updating the country’s record of increasing numbers.
As of the week of 2 August, the number of new cases confirmed by Covid-19 in Japan was 1.16 times higher than in the previous week, and the remaining 45 prefectures with the exception of Qingseng and Shimagen districts continued to increase. For every 100,000 people, Okinawa has the highest prevalence of 2,353 and 18 more prefectures are at a high level of infection of more than 1,000. According to data published by the World Health Organization, during the week of 25 to 31 July, there were 1379099 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Japan, making it the country with the largest number of confirmed cases in the world for two consecutive weeks. WHO data show that in the week of 25 to 31 July, there were approximately 656,000 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 globally, with Japan accounting for approximately 21 per cent. According to the Daily News report, the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare's “advisory committee” providing advice to the Government on Covid-19's response, in response to an assessment of the current epidemiological situation in Japan, found that the increase in the number of infections would continue and that Japan was at the stage of “continuing updating the highest levels of infection”.
According to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases of Japan, BA.2.75, the new mutation strain of Omicron, was first identified in India in June of this year, and was subsequently detected in more than 20 countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, in Osaka and Tokyo, Japan, in July, and in Yamaguchi on 2 August, two more people were diagnosed with BA.2.75. According to the latest research, BA.2.75 is more able to escape from the quarantine barrier built by the covid-19 vaccine. Professor Fujimura, Northeast Medical University of Japan, stated that BA.2.75 is likely to start spreading from Miyagi County in early September at the earliest. Other experts also noted that more festivals, such as fireworks conferences, were held throughout Japan during the summer, increasing opportunities for crowds and objectively increasing the risk of epidemic transmission. Economic and social impact
The rapid expansion of the epidemic is having an increasing impact on all aspects of Japan's economy and society.
The West Japan Railway Company was reportedly affected by the epidemic, resulting in a shortage of drivers, and the company decided to suspend some of the bus lines from 8 to 21 August. In addition, there is a shortage of acetylaminophenol tablets in commonly used antithermal pain medications that can be used to treat symptoms of fever caused by infection. Nishida, the central pharmacy for Western Japan's transfer, claims that the stock of drugs can only be maintained for about a week due to a surge in prescriptions. The epidemic has partially paralysed the operation of the civilian sector, such as postal, bus and health posts, in the Kanagawa district, where the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 has increased continuously. In Japan, 2,618 network sites out of 24,000 sites in the country's postal service were affected, 170 network sites were closed, 40 network sites were infected and 3 network sites were closed. It has also been reported that health care and care institutions in Japan, which are based on daily living care and help for those who have difficulties living independently, are also affected by the “seventh wave” epidemic. As a result of the absence of staff, some hospitals have closed down some of the hospital areas and some of the service providers have had difficulty operating, and there have been cases of patients unable to process hospitalization due to the fact that more than 90 of the approximately 2,000 medical personnel at Fukuoka University Hospital in the Southern District of Fukuoka City have been infected with Covid-19 or have become insiders. Six out of a total of about 70 caregivers in the Toyako district of Kitakyushu city have been infected with Covid-19, who have had to work at night on a continuous basis owing to a shortage of staff. Moreover, as a result of the worsening of the epidemic situation, data on the domestic economic climate in Japan have declined for the first time in almost five months.
The survey showed that Japan’s economic climate index of July 2022 fell by 0.1 percentage points from the previous month, and that the catering, retailing, services, etc. were most directly affected by the epidemic. Although the Japanese government has not imposed restrictions on people’s movement, there has been a significant decrease in passenger traffic, and the barbecue shop in the northern part of Osaka city has been notified of the cancellation of the party since mid-July. Despite the fact that they are located in crowded neighbourhoods, there is still a shortage of guests and, in order to reduce costs, they have to close early when they are few. In addition, the travel and catering sectors such as Kumamoto, Miyazaki, Fukuoka and others face a similar situation. New outbreak response
In view of the prevailing strain on medical resources throughout the country and the negative impact of the epidemic on economic life everywhere, the Government of Japan intends to intensify its new response to curb the rise in the number of infections.
On 29 July, the Government of Japan announced a “BA.5 Declaration on the Strengthening of the Response” issued by the new prefectures themselves, which, according to analysis, will bring together the central and provincial governments to appeal to the elderly and to patients with basic diseases to avoid moving to crowded places where they are at higher risk of infection, to urge the population to be vaccinated as soon as possible and to take further measures to avoid going out, such as telecommuting. As of 3 August, seven prefectures, Kanagawa, Fukuoka and Kumamoto, had issued a “Ba.5 Declaration on Enhanced Response.” Following the declaration, the Government of Japan identified the area as “BA.5 Area of Enhanced Response”, which could be directed by staff.
However, this measure is clearly short compared to the “Emergency Declaration” “Emergency Prevention and Other Priority Measures”: Businesses are not required to reduce business hours, travel activities are not restricted, and there are no coercive or punitive measures.
Despite the sharp increase in the number of diagnoses, the Government of Japan has expressed negative views on the adoption of measures, including priority measures such as prevention of contagion, for reasons such as the maintenance of economic and social activities. Moreover, in view of the overburdening and impending paralysis of the health-care system throughout Japan, Japanese quarantine experts and local officials advocate “deficit” on the front lines of the health-care system: first, the proposal to eliminate “full-sum” exposure of infected persons; second, the suggestion to simplify the process of covid-19 consultations; and third, the recommendation to keep patients with minor illnesses isolated from hospitals. With regard to measures such as the elimination of “full-sum” and other measures, the Government of Japan has taken caution, saying that it will study it after the end of the “seventh wave” epidemic. But, in order to reduce the burden on the health-care system, the Government of Japan, while continuing to “full-sum” the infected, has decided to simplify the covid-19 patient intelligence management system, “Her-SYS,” and to reduce unnecessary fillings.