Govt to focus on social, economic activity amid pandemic resurgence

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Tokyo’s daily coronavirus tally is displayed on a screen above a crossing in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, on Thursday.

The government will focus on maintaining social and economic activity under its latest pandemic response policy, revealed Friday amid a resurgence in coronavirus cases.

The policy, which was approved at a meeting of the government’s coronavirus task force, states that “flexible and focused efforts will be made on measures that are expected to be highly effective while maintaining social and economic activities as much as possible,” based on the characteristics of the omicron variant.

The importance of vaccination, virus testing, and appropriate ventilation is also highlighted in the policy.

“As the BA.5 subvariant is becoming the dominant form, maximum vigilance is needed to prevent further spread of the virus,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said at the task force meeting.

With the number of severe cases and deaths remaining at low levels and hospital beds secured, Kishida said, “The government is not considering any new restrictions on activities at this time.”

Under the policy, people aged 60 and older and adults with underlying health conditions will be urged to get a fourth vaccination shot.

Among people aged 60 and older who received their third shot at least five months ago, only 30% have received a fourth dose.

The booster uptake is low among people in their 20s and 30s, with many yet to receive a third dose.

While 60% of the population has received three shots of a vaccine, the figure is below 50% among people in their 20s, and lower than 30% for the same demographic in Okinawa Prefecture.

The government plans to encourage vaccination in areas where the uptake is particularly low.

Under the latest policy, people who plan to see elderly people during the summer holiday period are being urged to take coronavirus tests beforehand to confirm they are negative.

The task force also urged the implementation of effective ventilation to reduce droplet infection indoors.