Japan faces another coronavirus wave, but this one’s different

Japan faces another coronavirus wave, but this one’s different

Another wave of COVID-19 appears to be gathering momentum in Japan, but a high number of asymptomatic cases compared to previous outbreaks and transmissions occurring in households and workplaces are forcing officials to reconsider the way they trace cluster infections and reinforcing the need for comprehensive testing.

Authorities recorded 1,660 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Thursday — beating the previous record of 1,597 infections logged on Aug. 7 — following upticks in Hokkaido, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Aichi, Hyogo, Ibaraki and Osaka prefectures, among others.

“The central government is working with municipal governors to prevent an explosive increase in new infections,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Friday morning.

Suga insisted that, at that point in time, there was no need for the nation to declare a state of emergency, or for select municipalities to be removed from the Go To Travel campaign, an ongoing government program created to incentivize domestic travel.

COVID-19 was first detected in Japan in January, and the first and second waves peaked in April and July, respectively, according to the health ministry.

Older people in their 70s and 80s accounted for a large share of infections during the first wave, while the second wave consisted mostly of young people in their 20s and 30s — owing to cluster infections that were mostly traced back to bars, night clubs and what officials then referred to as “nightlife destinations.”