Japan fears rapid increase in Omicron Covid-19 variant

Japan fears rapid increase in Omicron Covid-19 variant

Kanako Mita and Sawako Utsumi

Modern Tokyo Times

The government of Japan is worried about the growing presence of the Omicron Covid-19 variant. This concerns the gradual increase in detected cases. Therefore, with the rapid spread of the Omicron variant in nations including South Africa and the United Kingdom, Japan is preparing for the worst-case scenario.

Omi Shigeru, the influential coronavirus panel chief to the government, is worried that the health care system might face another enormous challenge. Importantly, the words of Omi are respected throughout Japan – irrespective of whether individuals agree or disagree with him – because he isn’t afraid to challenge government policies if he deems them inappropriate. 

He said, “This strain is expected to infect many people in a short period. Some of them will likely develop severe symptoms. The medical system, which is being strengthened, could be overwhelmed.”

The third booster vaccine shot seems important for vulnerable groups. Hence, Japan is implementing a policy to provide booster shots after six months rather than the planned eight months. Therefore, the administration of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is showing greater urgency than the former administration under Yoshihide Suga.

Modern Tokyo Times recently reported, “Patients and workers in elderly care facilities are being prioritized during the early part of the booster vaccine program. However, if the 120 million Pfizer doses are received earlier and the supply chain with Moderna – and other vaccines – are involved with the vaccine booster program, then other vulnerable groups will be able to take the booster shot after six months.”

South Africa and the United Kingdom have been hit by high daily Omicron infections. Despite this, the death rate is relatively low than past highs. Thus many health experts and the World Health Organization (WHO) are indicating that it appears that Omicron is less deadly. However, the WHO is expressing the need to be cautious because nations – and regions within nations – have huge differences concerning age groups, BMI, internal health issues, and other important factors. 

Reuters reports, “As Omicron fears grow, the world’s third-largest economy has tightened up border restrictions and promised to speed up booster shots.”

https://stopcovid19.metro.tokyo.lg.jp/en/ – Tokyo Metropolitan Government website for updates about the coronavirus crisis in Tokyo.

https://toyokeizai.net/sp/visual/tko/covid19/en.html – Japan and Tokyo Covid-19 news with more analysis

https://covid19japan.com/ – Japan regional coronavirus statistics

https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ World coronavirus statistics

https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/japan-suspects-first-case-community-spread-omicron-nhk-2021-12-22/

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