Japan in Tough Coronavirus Fight as Delta Variant Rages

Politics

Tokyo, Aug. 17 (Jiji Press)--Japan is in a tough fight against the novel coronavirus, with the government's scenario of containing the fifth wave of infections by the end of August through progress in vaccinations failing in the face of the rapid spread of the highly contagious delta variant.

The government is set to extend its ongoing COVID-19 state of emergency for Tokyo and five other prefectures, currently slated to end Aug. 31, until Sept. 12 and expand it to more prefectures. But it is unclear whether the measure will produce results. "I have no idea at all when the pandemic will die down," one expert said.

The government has been focusing on dealing with the infection situation in Tokyo, an epicenter of the fifth wave. Assuming that progress in vaccinations will help prevent the virus from spreading further, the government has taken countermeasures targeting eating and drinking establishments.

But the delta variant, which is believed to be twice as transmissible as the original virus, spread much faster than expected, leading the government to give up lifting the state of emergency at the end of August.

Effects of a state of emergency are believed to start appearing about two weeks after it is issued. This time, however, new infection cases began to surge around two weeks after the declaration of the ongoing emergency on July 12, putting the medical system under strain and forcing many people who are infected with the virus but are not in serious condition to wait to be hospitalized, a situation described by some as being at disaster level.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press