Coronavirus Update (25 May)
Here are some updates:
State of Emergency Ending
The State of Emergency was lifted in Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto on Thursday last week, and the national government is currently making final arrangements to lift the state of emergency for the remaining 5 prefectures (Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama and Hokkaido) later this afternoon.
Three prefectures in the national capital region (Tokyo, Saitama and Chiba) have met the numerical targets (an average of 0.5 or fewer new cases per 100,000 people in a given one-week period). Although Kanagawa and Hokkaido have not yet cleared this target, the government is going ahead with lifting their state of emergency, explaining that the routes of infection for most new cases are known, and the capacity for provision of medical care overall has improved.
Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who is in charge of the government’s COVID-19 response, remarked that while the first wave of infections has settled down, new infections are likely to continue emerging sporadically for the foreseeable future, so it is important to continue taking proper measures to prevent infections, such as wearing masks, avoiding the 3 Cs and partaking in the “new lifestyle” recommendations.
In Tokyo, high-risk venues where clusters have previously been confirmed such as night clubs, live houses and gyms will remain closed. The Metropolitain Government has published a “road map” outlining the stages in which restrictions may be eased in the national capital.
Reopening of municipal facilities
No new cases in Kumamoto have been confirmed since 8 May. Kumamoto City facilities such as the Kumamoto Castle Hall, Kumamoto City Museum, Contemporary Art Museum, libraries, community centres and gymnasiums (except for pools) have been re-opened. On 1 June, the tourist facility Josaien near Kumamoto Castle will re-open.
Abenomask distribution in Kumamoto
Distribution of cloth masks to all households has begun in Kumamoto Prefecture, and distribution is expected to be completed for the whole prefecture by the end of the month.
Government-sponsored contact tracing application to be released in June
A smartphone application is currently being developed by the Japanese government to help trace close contacts of people confirmed to be infected. The application, when downloaded, will use a smartphone’s Bluetooth capability to track “close contacts” (濃厚接触者 noukou sesshokusha), defined as being within 1 metre of another person for 15 minutes or longer. If a user of the application tests positive for COVID-19, they can voluntarily report it using the application, which then sends a notification to all other users detected as “close contacts” from the preceding 2 week period. If you receive a notification saying you were in close contact, you can then report to a local health centre. In order to protect user privacy, specific information such as the location and time of contact will remain confidential.