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Asia Minute: COVID-19 cases are rising again in parts of Japan

Japan Daily Life coronavirus june 28 2022
Eugene Hoshiko/AP
People wearing face masks to help protect against the spread of the coronavirus cool off at a cooling mist spot Tuesday, June 28, 2022 in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Cases of COVID-19 are on the rise in parts of Japan. That includes Okinawa — and the country’s largest city: Tokyo.

Late last week, Tokyo’s metropolitan government raised its alert level for new coronavirus cases.

Officials bumped up the ranking to the second-highest of four levels because of a steep rise in new cases.

Cases have been going up for the last two weeks — and health officials say that people under the age of 30 are a growing part of those infections.

Cases have also been increasing in Okinawa — and in both locations, some patients are not vaccinated, while others have not had booster shots.

Health officials say the highly contagious BA.5 substrain of the virus represents a growing number of cases in Japan — now making up about a quarter of new cases in Tokyo.

And there’s another complication: high temperatures that continue to linger across parts of the country — including the national capital.

Late last week, temperatures in Tokyo reached nearly 98 degrees — the hottest readings for June since records started being kept in 1875.

That’s a potential complication for health care.

The vice chair of the Tokyo Medical Association told Kyodo News that a rapid increase in heatstroke patients could become a strain on emergency medical services — which could affect the ability of hospitals to accept COVID 19 patients.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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