On Thursday, Japan announced the easing of the state of emergency related to the coronavirus in Tokyo and six other regions from next week, with new daily cases completely declining as final preparations for the Olympics begin in just over a month.
Japan has been struggling since late March to slow the wave of infections being driven by more infectious variants, with daily new cases rising to more than 7,000 at one point, and seriously ill patients straining hospitals in Tokyo, Osaka and other urban areas.
Daily cases have fallen dramatically since then, paving the way for Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to lower the state of emergency when it expires on Sunday to less stringent measures. The new measures will run until July 11 – just 12 days before the Games.
Suga said the relaxed measures would focus on early closures of bars and restaurants. If there is another surge and it overwhelms hospitals, Suga said, “we will take action quickly, including stepping up measures,” to address the concerns of medical experts.
Experts at the anti-virus committee meeting, Thursday, gave their approval to the government’s plans to lower the level of emergency in Tokyo, Aichi, Hokkaido, Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo and Fukuoka.
“We must do everything we can, and also provide strong financial support” to reduce the risk of a resurgence of the infection, said Dr. Shigeru Omi, chair of the government’s COVID-19 commission.
Japan does not impose strict lockdowns and the state of emergency allows prefectural leaders to issue closing orders or shorter hours for non-essential businesses. Violators are compensated, violators are fined, stay at home and other measures for the general population are just requests and are increasingly being ignored.
Health Minister Norihisa Tamura told reporters that the government would not hesitate to issue another emergency declaration even in the middle of the Olympics to protect people’s lives.
The state of emergency will remain in Okinawa, where hospitals remain overcrowded, while Hiroshima and Okayama will be removed from the list.
Ryūji Wakita, director general of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases who chairs a government advisory board for COVID-19, said infections have fallen in many regions, but the slowdown has peaked in the Tokyo area. He warned that injuries could increase and that signs of recovery had already been shown among young people.
Even as more people are getting vaccinated and most of the country’s 36 million elderly people are expected to be vaccinated by the end of July, young people are largely unvaccinated and infections can quickly burden hospitals, Wakita said.
“In order to prevent another uprising, it is necessary to prevent people from walking around during the Olympics and the summer holidays,” he said.
Experts say it is critical to speed up the rollout of a vaccine so that the Olympics are safe.
Suga has opened mass vaccination centers and started vaccination in major companies, part of an ambitious goal of one million doses a day. As of Wednesday, only six percent of Japanese have been fully vaccinated.
-From the Associated Press, last updated at 7 a.m. ET
What’s happening all over Canada
As of 10:05 a.m. ET Thursday, Canada has reported 1,405,532 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 13,891 considered active. CBC News’ death toll has reached 26,008. More than 30.3 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered so far across the country, according to the CBC Vaccine Tracker.
Ontario On Thursday, it reported seven additional deaths and 370 new cases of COVID-19.
Across the North, no new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Nunavut Thursday. Health officials from Northwest Territories And the Yukon No updated information has yet been provided for today.
But on Wednesday, health officials in Yukon He warned that the growing COVID-19 outbreak “has outpaced anything we’ve seen before.” Of the 49 active cases in the territory, 44 are in Whitehorse, Medical Director of Health Dr Brendan Hanley said.
In Atlantic Canada on Wednesday, health officials reported 12 new cases of COVID-19, including:
- Eight cases in Nova ScotiaThe governorate entered the second phase of reopening on Wednesday.
- Three cases in new bronzePrime Minister Blaine Higgs announced Wednesday that the county has met the necessary vaccination threshold to move on to its next step of reopening.
- One new case in Newfoundland and LabradorOn Wednesday, health officials said that dates for the second dose will be raised.
No new cases were reported in Prince Edward Island, which as of Wednesday had no active cases of COVID-19.
at Quebec, health officials reported one new death and 153 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday.
In the prairie counties on Wednesday, Manitoba It reported seven additional deaths and 144 new cases of COVID-19. The update came as the county said it hoped everyone 12 and older would be eligible for second doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of next week.
Saskatchewan Meanwhile, health officials reported two additional deaths and 74 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. in the neighborhood Alberta, health officials reported 153 new cases of COVID-19 and four more deaths.
at British ColumbiaOn Wednesday, health officials reported 113 new cases of COVID-19 and four deaths related to COVID-19.
— From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 10:05AM ET
What is happening around the world
As of early Thursday morning, a database of COVID-19 cases showed more than 177 million cases reported worldwide. The Johns Hopkins University tracker Putting the reported global death toll at over 3.8 million.
In the AmericasIn Costa Rica, health authorities said that after studying the available clinical studies, they decided to refuse delivery of the Sinovac Biotech vaccine for the time being, saying it was not effective enough.
at AfricaSome of the world’s poorest countries are experiencing a double-headed crisis: an increase in COVID-19 cases and a severe shortage of vaccines. Concerns are growing in African countries such as Zimbabwe, Zambia and Uganda.
at EuropePortugal is seeing a rise in coronavirus cases, as the government prepares to review pandemic rules on Thursday. The European Union member state reported 1,350 new cases on Wednesday, the highest daily total since February. Experts say a delta variant first identified in India may be the trigger for the spread. The Lisbon region accounted for nearly 1,000 new cases.
In the Asia Pacific In the region, Indonesia’s president ordered authorities to speed up the country’s vaccination campaign as the World Health Organization warned of the need to increase social restrictions amid a new wave of coronavirus cases in the country.
“We need to speed up vaccination in order to achieve community immunity, which we hope will stop the spread of COVID-19,” President Joko Widodo said Thursday while visiting a vaccination center outside the capital Jakarta.
In the Middle eastBahrain has approved the emergency use of regn-cov2, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, and a newly licensed COVID-19 antibody suite from Roche, as part of its coronavirus treatment protocol to treat existing cases with mild to moderate symptoms.
— From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 7 a.m. ET
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