Thursday, August 13, 2020

Infections in Japan spreading at parties, within families

Aug 02. 2020
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By The Japan News

Infections of the new coronavirus are spreading rapidly, with the focus shifting from host clubs and other “nighttime establishments” to familiar places such as workplaces and households.

“Infections are spreading among many regions and ages. We cannot afford to hesitate,” Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said at a press conference Friday at the metropolitan government offices.

One new source of infections has been parties at restaurants and other establishments. From June 20-26 there were 13 such infections, which rose eight-fold to 104 infections from July 25-31.

Infections continue to crop up in people who attended workplace gatherings or drinking parties among friends.

A metropolitan government official pointed out that, “At drinking parties people talk for a long time with their masks off, which increases the risk of infection.”

The metropolitan government is asking dining establishments and karaoke shops that serve alcohol in Tokyo to only stay open until 10 p.m. starting Monday.

In Shinjuku Ward, which has the most of infections among the municipalities of Tokyo, 146 new cases were confirmed Friday.

“With the number of infections growing, even my regular customers have stopped coming,” said the 50-year-old proprietor of a yakitori grilled chicken restaurant in a shopping district near JR Shinjuku Station.

After the metropolitan government issued its request to cut hours, the man decided he would close his shop for a month starting Saturday.

“If this situation continues, restaurants will have no way to survive,” he lamented.


■ Can’t work from home

Infections that occur at home have also stood out. There were 29 such infections from June 20-26, but this increased by about 7.8-fold to 226 infections from July 25-31.

A 23-year-old man from Kawasaki lives with his grandmother, but because he handles personal information for his job he cannot work from home. He commutes to central Tokyo almost every day.

“I’m worried about unknowingly being infected and transmitting it to my grandmother,” he said.

Masataka Inokuchi, vice chairman of the Tokyo Medical Association, said, “Families with elderly people or people with comorbidities who are at high risk of developing severe disease need to take action, including by wearing masks even in the home.”


■ Taking action

With the central government refusing to issue a second emergency declaration, prefectural governments outside Tokyo have begun taking action, such as declaring their own states of emergency or asking businesses to close.

Okinawa Prefecture, which recently logged a record 71 infections, announced it would issue an emergency declaration from August 1 to 15.

The declaration calls on people on the whole Okinawa Island to avoid going out unnecessarily and asks visitors from other prefectures, including tourists, to think twice about coming.

“If we don’t stop the explosive growth in infections, there will be major effects on the medical system,” Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki warned.

Osaka Prefecture will ask businesses in the Minami entertainment district in Chuo Ward, to close or only stay open until 8 p.m. from August 6 to 20.

On Friday, Kyoto Gov. Takatoshi Nishiwaki asked people in the prefecture to avoid parties with 10 or more people and to keep parties to about two hours.

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