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HOME  > Past issues  > 2022 March 16 - 22  > Diligence still required to deal with COVID-19 while quasi-emergency measures lifted
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2022 March 16 - 22 TOP3 [POLITICS]

Diligence still required to deal with COVID-19 while quasi-emergency measures lifted

March 22, 2022

Akahata editorial (excerpts)

The central government on March 21 lifted quasi-state-of-emergency measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in 18 prefectures, including Tokyo and Osaka, on the grounds that overall new cases are starting to decline. However, the number of newly-infected people continues to be high and the hospital bed occupancy rate also still remains high.

On March 15, the COVID-19 expert advisory board to the Health Ministry reported that the current infection situation differs from the situation last summer when a constant decrease was seen, and that the number of new cases is declining at a slow pace. The expert panel expects a high degree of new cases for a while, warning of a possible spread of infections due to an increase in contact with people who do not normally meet associated with spring break or the start of the business year.

Many experts are concerned that "BA.2", an omicron subvariant which is said to be more contagious, may replace the currently prevailing omicron variant. The spread of omicron subvariant BA.2 is a factor behind the ongoing rise in the number of new cases in Asia and Europe. Therefore, it is necessary for Japan to stay alert.

However, Prime Minister Kishida Fumio at a press conference on March 16 stated, "The way out of the epidemic is clearly coming into sight," differing from the experts' risk assessment. His "clear exit is in sight" statement may mislead the general public into feeling optimistic about the situation.

The central government removed the quasi-emergency measures even in hospitals whose bed occupancy rate exceeds 50%. Staff members of these medical and healthcare institutions which are still overwhelmed by COVID-19 are calling into question the lifting of the emergency measures, asking, "Why now?"

In order to prevent another crisis associated with a possible re-spike of COVID-19 from occurring again, the central government should review its conventional ways to handle COVID-19.
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