Japan’s PM Suga urges citizens to have a quiet and distanced New Year – world news

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Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga urged the nation on Friday to spend a quiet New Year period without the standard social gatherings to prevent the spread of Covid-19, which has been breaking infection records nearly each day.

Suga also announced a package of $2.6 billion for hospitals treating Covid-19 patients which have come under strain because of the rapid rise in cases across the northern island of Hokkaido in addition to large cities like Tokyo and Osaka.

“I want you to spend a quiet New Year,” the premier told a news convention in Tokyo with the government’s leading coronavirus expert Shigeru Omi.

“The infections aren’t coming down and whether we retain going like this, we won’t have the ability to steer clear of further spread of the virus.”

The country confirmed its first cases of the new, faster- spreading variant of the virus, in two citizens who had arrived from the UK, domestic media reported late on Friday.

Japan has banned entry from United Kingdom, except for returning Japanese nationals and those with residence permits.

Japan does not celebrate Christmas, but the New Year period is an extended national holiday, with many of us generally travelling back to their hometowns and spending time with friends and family.

Omi warned that it used to be critical that “all citizens move in the same direction,” to receive a grip on the health crisis.

“Whether we don’t bring infections down now, once they surge again after the New Year period it won’t be easy to change the downward trend,” he said. “It would take time, and would probably be not possible to keep watch over over a period of weeks,” he said.

Omi said shared meals were a major cause of infections and called on people to chorus from holding large gatherings and to limit meals to four people one steadily ate with, or fewer.

While Japan has have shyed away from the enormous infection numbers seen in other parts of the world, the number of new day by day cases surpassed 3,000 for the first time this month. Tokyo reported 884 infections on Friday, close Thursday’s record 888.

HOSPITALS, VACCINES

Underscoring the strain on the hospitals, five national groups of doctors and other medical workers made an emergency request to Suga on Friday, asking for strong anti-pandemic measures and improve for the medical sector.

With hospitals equipped for treating Covid-19 filling up, other hospitals are being forced to accept patients with the disease, according to Tsuyoshi Masuda, president of the Japan Federation of Democratic Medical Institutions.

“These small and medium-sized hospitals, that have been supporting medical services and products in their respective regions, are facing a crisis that is threatening their survival,” Masuda told reporters at a separate news convention on Friday.

He also warned that the risk of in-hospital infections used to be high at institutions not specialized in dealing with infectious diseases.

Japan, with a population of 126 million, has struck deals to shop for 290 million vaccine doses from Pfizer Inc, AstraZeneca Plc and Moderna Inc, or enough for 145 million people.

A health ministry panel said that people aged 65 or older will have to get precedence for vaccination against Covid-19, in addition to frontline healthcare workers and people with underlying medical conditions.

It specified chronic heart disease, chronic respiratory disease and chronic kidney disease, among others, as underlying conditions that are meant to resolve precedence.

The panel’s recommendations would intent 36 million elderly people and 8.2 million people with medical conditions will be the first to get shots.

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