Japan's COVID-19 surge shows signs of peaking as curbs extended
TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's biggest wave of COVID-19 cases to date is showing signs of peaking though authorities are extending virus curbs into next month to try to bring down the rate of hospitalisations.
Top medical adviser Shigeru Omi said on Thursday that health centres would shift towards focusing on care for the elderly and those at risk of developing serious illness.
"While infections are still increasing, there's a relative slowing trend among working people in their 20s and 30s," he told reporters after a health task-force meeting.
Japan will on Friday begin a long weekend that have in the past coincided with increases in cases.
Virus curbs in Tokyo and 12 prefectures that had been due to expire on Sunday will be extended until March 6, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Wednesday.
A expert panel said that while the rate of infections was slowing, the medical system remained under pressure and hospitalisations may continue to rise.
Tokyo reported 18,287 new infections on Wednesday, down from a record 21,576 on Feb. 2 in the first week-on-week decline in almost two months.
Nationwide data show the same flattening trend, while cases in the southern prefecture of Okinawa, where this latest wave first gained momentum, continue to ebb.
(Reporting by Rocky Swift; Editing by Robert Birsel)
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