Japan looks to regions to mount fight against COVID as variant spreads

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Passengers and passers-by wearing protective masks walk in the hall, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, at Nagoya Station in Nagoya, Japan, July 21, 2022. REUTERS/Issei Kato

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TOKYO, July 29 (Reuters) – Japan is encouraging regional authorities to take their own countermeasures against the spread of a new coronavirus variant that has driven cases to record highs, but there are no plans for radical national measures.

A seventh wave of COVID-19 pushed the daily number of new cases in Japan to a record 233,094 on Thursday as the BA.5 variant of the virus spreads, putting pressure on medical services and disrupting operations. business in some places.

Japan has never imposed nationwide lockdowns on the scale of some other countries, periodically calling on people to stay at home as much as possible and limiting restaurant and bar opening hours.

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On Friday, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiji Kihara reiterated that regional authorities should tailor their response to their specific situations.

“Rather than a national response, we want to support regional authorities in their efforts which are based on their local situations,” Kihara said at a regular press conference.

“What is important is to help the social and economic activities of each prefecture.”

The western city of Osaka recently urged older people to avoid non-essential outings.

The country of 125.8 million people has done better than some in handling the pandemic, with 32,308 deaths since it began in early 2020.

But Japan recorded the highest number of new coronavirus cases in the world in the week to July 24, the World Health Organization said this week.

Although the number of deaths from the new wave has been low compared to previous ones, new infections are beginning to take their toll in some areas.

Railway companies in some areas have had to cut services due to staff shortages and Toyota Motor Corp suspended nighttime operations on a production line at its Takaoka plant in central Japan this week due to COVID . Read more .

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Reporting by Mariko Katsumura and Elaine Lies; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Robert Birsel

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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