BA.2 subvariant now suspected in 70% of COVID-19 cases in Tokyo

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The BA.2 subvariant of the omicron variant of the novel coronavirus, which is believed to be more infectious than the original variant, is now suspected to be accounting for nearly 70% of COVID-19 cases in Tokyo, experts reported at a metropolitan government meeting on Thursday.

The experts warned that Tokyo is facing a critical moment that will determine whether infections will rapidly spread again, calling for taking thorough measures to prevent a seventh COVID-19 infection wave in Japan.

According to the Tokyo metropolitan government, the proportion of coronavirus patients suspected of being infected with the subvariant rose to 67.8% in the Japanese capital in the week through March 28 from 52.3% in the preceding week.

The number of people out and about at night at entertainment districts in Tokyo on Saturday was 37.6% higher than when the Japanese capital was in the COVID-19 pre-emergency stage.

In a bid to prevent a further spread of the coronavirus, the Tokyo government is stepping up efforts to encourage young people, whose COVID-19 vaccination rates are relatively low, to get vaccinated.

At its mass vaccination venues, the metropolitan government will enable group reservations of 10 or more people from the same company or university. It will also utilize “vaccine buses,” which have been visiting nursing homes and other facilities, for promoting inoculations for university students and others.

“I think that newly enrolled students and new employees have fresh feelings in this season,” Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike told a press conference after the meeting. “I’d like to use this opportunity to promote (COVID-19) vaccinations,” she added.