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40 prefectures now at ‘explosive growth’ in new virus infections

  • August 19, 2021
  • , The Asahi Shimbun , 4:15 p.m.
  • English Press


Forty of Japan’s 47 prefectures are now in the most serious Stage 4 level of “explosive growth” in novel coronavirus infections.


The number, based on daily COVID-19 case counts over the week to Aug. 17, was up from 31 prefectures in the previous week.


The number of new cases across Japan for the latest week was 131 percent of the figure for the week earlier. Only Fukui and Tottori prefectures have seen decreases in new infections over that period.


“The spread of infections never ends,” a member of the health ministry’s advisory panel on COVID-19 countermeasures said at an Aug. 18 meeting.


The National Institute of Infectious Diseases estimated that the more contagious Delta variant accounted for more than 90 percent of all new cases in Japan as of mid-August.


The number of patients with serious symptoms across the nation was 1,716 on Aug. 17, up by 70 from a day earlier and smashing the record for the sixth straight day.


Tokyo accounted for 276 of the seriously ill patients, breaking the previous record of 160 set on Jan. 20.


At an out-of-session meeting of the Lower House’s Cabinet Committee on Aug. 18, Masato Imai, a lawmaker of the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, asked the government to declare a state of emergency for the entire country.


However, Shigeru Omi, chief of the government’s expert panel on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, recommended a narrower focus.


“This issue remains the problem of the Tokyo metropolitan area,” he said.


Omi said an intensive response over a short period would be preferable to a state of emergency across Japan.


Japan reported 23,916 new COVID-19 cases as of 8 p.m. on Aug. 18, topping the earlier record of 20,362 set on Aug. 13 by more than 3,000.


Twenty-seven prefectures confirmed new daily highs in confirmed infections.


Osaka Prefecture recorded more than 2,000 new cases for the first time, while Aichi and Hyogo prefectures each topped the 1,000 mark for the first time.


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