Yomiuri front-paged remarks made to the press yesterday by Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Nishimura, who said Japan has “witnessed a downward trend” in the number of new COVID-19 patients in recent weeks. The seven-day rolling average of the number of cases per day nationwide for the week ending Aug. 29 was 777, about 20% lower than the previous week. Because the Health Ministry’s coronavirus advisory board concluded on Aug. 24 that the current resurgence had peaked in late July, the daily conjectured that the nation may have weathered the second wave.
Even though the effective reproduction rates in Tokyo, Osaka, Aichi, and Okinawa dropped below 1.0 in early August, they are currently hovering close to around 1.0. As such, epidemiologists project that the number of new cases will not drop drastically at least for a while. A total of 331 patients were in serious condition across the country as of Aug. 26, with many of them being aged 60 or older. While the nationwide hospital bed occupancy rate was 24% as of the same day, the figures for Okinawa and Fukuoka remained high at 63% and 56%, respectively.
Meanwhile, Nikkei reported that nearly 32,000 people, including over 8,100 in Tokyo, tested positive for COVID-19 across the country in August, almost 80% higher than a month ago. Close to half of the nation’s cumulative cases were reported in August alone. As the epidemic curve has been falling since early August, the daily speculated that travel during the Obon holidays in mid-August had a limited impact on the spread of the virus.