Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Japan combats Delta Covid without a lockdown

Lockdowns or vaccines? 3 Pacific nations try diverging paths | CTV News - Nick Perry, Mari Yamaguchi & Rod Mcguirk:

August 22, 2021 - "The discovery of a single local COVID-19 case in New Zealand was enough for the government to put the entire country into strict lockdown this past week.... Elsewhere around the Pacific, though, Japan is resisting such measures in the face of a record-breaking surge, instead emphasizing its accelerating vaccine program. And Australia has fallen somewhere in the middle

"All three countries got through the first year of the pandemic in relatively good shape but are now taking diverging paths in dealing with outbreaks of the Delta variant, the highly contagious form that has contributed to a growing sense that the coronavirus cannot be stamped out, just managed.... The differing emphasis on lockdowns versus vaccines -- and how effective such strategies prove to be in beating back the Delta variant -- could have far-reaching consequences for the three countries' economies and the health of their citizens.

"Japan has never imposed lockdowns against the coronavirus. The public is wary of government overreach after the country's fascist period before and during the Second World War, and Japan's postwar constitution lays out strict protections for civil liberties.

"Before the Delta variant, the country managed to keep a lid on coronavirus outbreaks in part because many people in Japan were already used to wearing surgical masks for protection from spring allergies or when they caught colds. Now, almost everyone on public transportation wears a mask during commuting hours. But late at night, people tend to uncover in restaurants and bars, which has allowed the variant to spread. 

"Hosting the Tokyo Olympic Games didn't help either. While strict protocols kept infections inside the games to a minimum, experts such as Dr. Shigeru Omi, a key medical adviser to the government, say the Olympics created a festive air that led people in Japan to lower their guard. New cases in Japan have this month leaped to 25,000 each day, more than triple the highest previous peak. Omi considers that a disaster.

"Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday expanded and extended a state of emergency covering Tokyo and other areas until at least mid-September, though most of the restrictions aren't legally enforceable. Many governors are urging the prime minister to consider much tougher restrictions. But Suga said lockdowns have been flouted around the world, and vaccines are 'the way to go.'

"Daily vaccinations in Japan increased tenfold from May to June as thousands of worksites and colleges began offering shots, but a slow start has left the nation playing catch-up. Only about 40% of people are fully vaccinated."

Read more: https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/lockdowns-or-vaccines-3-pacific-nations-try-diverging-paths-1.5556996

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