Japan urges caution over 7th Covid wave, rules out restrictions

Tokyo, Jul 14 (EFE).- Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday urged citizens to observe “maximum caution” as a fresh coronavirus wave has affected the country with infections rising sharply, although he ruled out imposing new restrictions for now.

Japanese health authorities had declared the onset of the seventh Covid-19 wave earlier this week, which has resulted in infections level not seen since February, driven by the highly infections omicron subvariant BA.5.

Kishida said in a press conference that authorities had strengthened Covid prevention and treatment measure on the basis of earlier experience, and now it was necessary to balance these actions with social and economic activities.

The preventive measures include accelerating administration of the fourth dose of anti-Covid vaccines for the elderly, while authorities are also seeking ways to facilitate third dose vaccination for young people, the age group which accounts for the lowest percentage of those given a booster dose.

On Wednesday, Japan recorded close to 95,000 Covid cases, the highest since February.

Authorities have increasingly warned of high occupancy rates for hospital beds reserved for Covid patients, along with a rise in patients with serious symptoms and deaths.

The head of the national disease control and prevention center, Norio Ohmagari, said that the current infection rate suggested that next week Japan could witness its highest ever peak of infections during the pandemic, which could trigger an unprecedented “explosive” situation.

The Japanese government has decided to postpone relaunching a program to promote domestic tourism, which was scheduled to begin in early July.

The Asian nation continues to be among the few countries which have kept their borders closed to most foreign visitors since the beginning of the pandemic.

In recent months, authorities have eased rules for the entry of visitors on business visits or for granting work and student visas, but foreign tourists continue to be denied access except small groups managed by Japanese travel agencies with stringent restrictions in place. EFE


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