Tokyo, Feb. 1 (Jiji Press)–The number of novel coronavirus cases reported daily in Japan has been on a declining trend since mid-January, a health ministry advisory team said Monday.
The group of experts who advise the government in its coronavirus policies disclosed the view a week before the scheduled end of the coronavirus state of emergency over Tokyo and 10 other prefectures.
Based on the date on which symptoms first appeared, the number of coronavirus cases has been on the decline since early January, the team said.
“A decrease in new infections does not immediately lead to a decrease in the strain on the medical system,” said group chair Takaji Wakita, director-general of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases. “Well-focused measures should be continued.”
On Monday, the group met for the first time since Jan. 13.
The effective reproduction number for the coronavirus, or the average number of people whom a carrier infects, stood at 0.80 in Japan as of Jan. 15, lower than 1.14 as of Dec. 27 last year. It also came below the threshold of 1.0, meaning that the virus is no longer spreading.
The effective reproduction number was mostly under 1.0 in all 11 prefectures currently under the state of emergency.
Despite a nationwide drop in infections at eateries and bars, Japan has seen a series of infection clusters occurring at elderly care and other facilities, Wakita said.
The numbers of infection cases remain high for those in their 80s and 90s, the group said, showing concerns that the death toll in the age group may surge.
The number of new infections per 100,000 people in the week through Jan. 17 stood at 33.04 nationwide, but the number dropped to 19.21 two weeks later.
Tokyo and Osaka Prefecture both saw their numbers drop within the same time frame, from 75.61 to 42.75 for the capital and from 41.36 to 25.75 for the western prefecture.
The advisory team said the medical system situation is “extremely severe” in Tokyo and “severe” in the remaining prefectures under the state of emergency except Tochigi, north of Tokyo.
The government will decide on an extension of the state of emergency Tuesday, given the medical system situation. But it is expected to lift the emergency for Tochigi.