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  • New coronavirus variant 'Eek' found in Japan, lowers vaccine protection

    Japan, currently reeling under a new wave of Covid-19, reportedly anticipates fresh trouble over the E484K mutation of the coronavirus, nicknamed 'Eek' by scientists.


    • Japan Times...

      Japan fears coronavirus variants are fueling possible fourth wave

      Extent of variant spread is unknown, as only small fraction of COVID-19 cases undergo checks for mutations

      Japanese health authorities are concerned that variants of the coronavirus are driving a nascent fourth wave in the pandemic with just 109 days remaining until the Tokyo Olympics.

      The variants appear to be more infectious and may be resistant to vaccines, which are still not widely available in Japan. The situation is worst in Osaka, where infections hit fresh records last week, prompting the regional government to start targeted lockdown measures for one month from Monday.

      A mutant COVID-19 variant first discovered in Britain has taken hold in the Osaka region, spreading faster and filling up hospital beds with more serious cases than the original virus, according to Koji Wada, a government adviser on the pandemic.


      • Is it really that bad?

        There were 249 new infections in Tokyo on Monday, still well below the peak of over 2,500 in January. In Osaka, the tally was 341, down from a record 666 cases on Saturday.


          However, the survey also found that people seem to have a high interest in the competitions.

          For example, 62.2 percent said that they will eagerly watch the events broadcast through the media if the Olympics are held, and 41.9 percent said that they would feel a great loss if the Olympics are canceled entirely.


          • Meanwhile....Japan Times...

            Water polo test event off as Olympic qualifying cancellations mount

            An Olympic water polo test event scheduled for this weekend in Tokyo has been canceled because of coronavirus-related travel restrictions affecting sports officials, organizers revealed Tuesday.

            The two-day event at Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center was scheduled to open on Saturday and serve as a dress rehearsal to confirm and improve the competition and Games operation. The event could be rescheduled for a later date.

            According to organizers, timekeepers and record keepers were among the technical officials who were unable to come to Japan because of strict travel regulations barring most foreign entry into the country.

            The cancellation is another blow for organizers just days after they restarted test events, which had been on hold due to the pandemic, for the first time in more than a year.


            • Meanwhile....

              U.S. weighs Beijing Olympics boycott with partners, allies



              • Japan's daily virus total tops 3,000, highest in over two months

                Japan on Wednesday reported more than 3,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day, the highest level in over two months, with major metropolitan areas seeing a spike in infections which are putting renewed strain on their health care systems.

                The nationwide figure exceeded the 3,000 level for the first time since Jan. 30, when the country's second state of emergency was in place for 11 prefectures, including Tokyo and Osaka.

                In Osaka Prefecture, which declared a medical state of emergency Wednesday, a record 878 cases were reported, while neighboring Hyogo Prefecture saw an all-time high of 328 new cases.



                • Meanwhile...

                  Osaka takes Olympic torch relay off public roads as it declares state of emergency amid Covid-19 surge



                  • Tokyo eyes tighter virus restrictions as cases rebound in capital

                    Tokyo reported 555 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, the highest daily total since early February, as the capital’s governor signaled preparations were underway for bolstered anti-virus measures.

                    The capital recorded 555 cases on Wednesday as officials feared a "rebound” in cases had begun to hit earlier than expected, amid an increase in virus variants. Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said the metropolitan government was preparing to request that the central government apply quasi-emergency measures to the capital similar to the state of emergency it exited on March 21.

                    The slow pace of vaccine rollout is adding to concerns. Japan is set to begin vaccinating over-65s starting Monday, but supply constraints mean mass inoculations won’t begin in earnest until May. Less than 1% of the population have received just one dose of vaccine.



                    • Japan denies it may allow Olympic athletes to jump vaccine queue

                      Japan said on Thursday it was not currently looking to prioritize COVID-19 vaccines for Olympic athletes, dismissing a media report that sparked a social media outcry since the country’s inoculations are trailing other major economies.

                      While the government has said it will push ahead with the Olympics as planned from July 23, a vast majority of Japanese want the Games to be canceled or postponed again.

                      The outrage on social media continued despite Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato denying the report and saying that the government was not looking to give priority to athletes.

                      Others noted that Japan’s original plan gives priority to medical workers, the elderly and those with chronic conditions, with ordinary citizens unlikely to get theirs before the summer.

                      A number of test events for some sports have recently been canceled or postponed due to concerns about the pandemic, and on Tuesday leading business executive Hiroshi Mikitani wrote on Twitter that holding the Games was “risky”.

                      “Honestly, I feel that the Olympics this summer are just far too risky. I am against them,” wrote Mikitani, the CEO of Japanese e-commerce group Rakuten Inc.



                      • A year after first COVID-19 state of emergency, Japan remains in precarious situation

                        A year after the government declared its first state of emergency due to the coronavirus, Japan still finds itself in a precarious situation as cases rise and the nation fears for another wave of COVID-19.

                        A fourth wave looks imminent as cases involving variants continue to spread amid a decrease in the effectiveness of countermeasures, as the public has grown weary of protracted restrictions.

                        Many infectious disease experts and government officials say that the state of infections would have differed greatly had the government not decided to fully lift its first state of emergency on May 25 last year.



                        • Some progress has been made on the vaccine front, with vaccinations of older citizens set to begin next Monday after the campaign started in February with inoculations for health care workers.

                          However, there are problems in the fight against the virus that did not exist a year ago.

                          One is the rise of more infectious variants, which appear to be a significant factor behind the spread of cases in Osaka and Hyogo.

                          A member of a government expert group on the coronavirus said that the situation has changed, voicing concerns about an explosive wave of the virus unlike anything seen before if variants begin to spread in the Tokyo metropolitan area.


                          • Stricter COVID-19 measures to be applied in Tokyo, Kyoto and Okinawa

                            Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday approved stricter measures to stamp out soaring coronavirus cases for Tokyo, Okinawa and Kyoto — effective Monday — as variants pose a fresh threat to a public already frazzled by monthslong restrictions.

                            The measures authorize prefectural governors to request and order establishments, primarily bars and restaurants, to close by 8 p.m. in designated municipalities, as opposed to the prefecture-wide implementation seen in a state of emergency. They will be in place in all of the capital’s 23 wards and six cities — Musashino, Hachioji, Machida, Chofu, Fuchu and Tachikawa — through May 11, while they will be implemented in the city of Kyoto and nine cities in Okinawa Prefecture — Naha, Nago, Uruma, Okinawa, Ginowan, Urasoe, Tomigusuku, Itoman and Nanjo — until May 5.



                            • Total number of coronavirus cases in Japan top 500,000

                              The cumulative number of coronavirus cases in Japan, including those confirmed among cruise ship passengers and crew members, has exceeded 500,000.

                              Japan confirmed 3,454 new cases on Friday, sending the cumulative total to 501,149. It took only about two months for the total to increase by 100,000.

                              Friday’s count matched as that of Wednesday, which was highest since the country’s second coronavirus state of emergency was entirely lifted last month. It also topped 3,000 for the third straight day.



                              • Originally posted by Conor Dary View Post
                                Total number of coronavirus cases in Japan top 500,000

                                The cumulative number of coronavirus cases in Japan, including those confirmed among cruise ship passengers and crew members, has exceeded 500,000.
                                500,000 cases total since the pandemic began? In early January, the USA was getting over 500,000 in 2 days!