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Editorial: Gov’t should extend COVID-19 state of emergency to all of Japan

  • August 26, 2021
  • , The Mainichi
  • English Press

The Japanese government has decided to add Aichi Prefecture in central Japan and seven other prefectures to its list of prefectures under a state of emergency over the coronavirus crisis. This will bring the total number of prefectures under a state of emergency to 21 out of 47 nationwide.

 

However, the newly confirmed cases of coronavirus patients in 44 prefectures in the last week have reached the equivalent of Stage 4 (an explosion of infections), highlighting the government’s slow handling of the situation.

 

The government had believed that if the vaccination of older adults progressed, it would be able to curb the number of people with severe symptoms of COVID-19. But now, we are seeing more and more people in their 40s and 50s becoming severely ill from the coronavirus, with their numbers marking record highs.

 

Some argue that the government sent the wrong message to the public by holding the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, even while urging the public to refrain from certain behavior, such as going out.

 

Shigeru Omi, head of the government’s coronavirus countermeasures subcommittee, suggested the government had been naive about the situation, saying it “may have taken a more optimistic view than the experts.”

 

Across the country, the conventional coronavirus strain is being replaced by the delta variant. Simply declaring a state of emergency in additional areas little by little does not provide us with any prospects for when this crisis will come to an end.

 

We must beef up our countermeasures and stop the collapse of the health care system.

 

More than anything, the key is to reduce contact among people. Experts proposed that crowds in Tokyo be reduced to half of what they were prior to the state of emergency declaration, but they only decreased by around 30%. Since the Obon holiday period ended in mid-August, people out in entertainment districts at night have increased. Viable measures must be implemented.

 

Once the summer holidays end, infection risks are feared to rise at schools. Experts are asking that classes at university level be taught online, and that testing programs be ramped up at schools.

 

There have been cases in which lives that could be saved under normal conditions could not be saved because of the current crisis.

 

A pregnant woman with the coronavirus was unable to find a hospital to take her in, and ultimately gave birth at home, where the baby died. Such an incident must not happen again.

 

Due to the limited number of hospital beds, there has been a surge in the number of people recuperating at home. The Japanese government, in cooperation with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, requested that medical facilities in Tokyo accept as many coronavirus patients as possible. It is necessary to improve the current situation.

 

The new medicinal treatment via IV drip that is meant to prevent COVID-19 patients from becoming severely ill is to be approved for provision to outpatients in addition to inpatients. We hope that a system of monitoring outpatients is set up.

 

Unless the government changes its optimistic outlook, it will not be able to win over the cooperation of the public or health care workers. In order to bring the fifth wave of infections to an end, the government must share a sense of urgency with experts and pour all its efforts into its coronavirus countermeasures.

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