Mask-wearing Slightly Down After COVID-19 Downgrade, Survey Shows

The Yomiuri Shimbun
People cross an intersection in front of Shibuya Station in Tokyo on Wednesday.

In a survey conducted one month after COVID-19 was downgraded under the Infectious Diseases Law, 46% of respondents said they wore masks even in uncongested areas in the first week of June, a slight decrease compared to before the reclassification.

Taisuke Nakata, an associate professor at the University of Tokyo, and Reo Takaku, an associate professor at Hitotsubashi University, asked 1,000 people aged 20 to 79 nationwide about their mask use.

The percentage of people opting to wear masks was down 4 percentage points compared to before the reclassification, and down 20 percentage points compared to March 13, when mask-wearing guidelines were eased.

The number of COVID-19 cases has been on the rise since the disease was downgraded under the Infectious Diseases Law to Category V — the same as influenza.

About 5,000 medical institutions nationwide reported an average of 3.63 cases on May 22-28, up from 2.63 on May 8-14, immediately after the reclassification, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

Although the latest figure is far below the peak of about 30 logged during the eighth wave of infections in December last year, a simple comparison of the data is not possible as a different method was used to calculate the December figure.

The occupancy of hospital beds for COVID-19 patients stood at 12% as of the end of May, and the figure for severe cases was as low as 4%.