Coronavirus: What’s Happening in Canada and Around the World on Wednesday
Japan extended its coronavirus state of emergency for a second week in a row on Wednesday, adding eight more prefectures as an increase in infections fueled by the delta variant puts pressure on the country’s health system.
Last week, the government extended the state of emergency until September 12 and extended the areas covered to 13 prefectures from six, including Tokyo. With four new prefectures added to a separate “near-emergency” status, 33 of Japan’s 47 prefectures are now subject to some type of emergency measure. Eight prefectures went from the status of quasi-emergency to that of total emergency.
“In order to protect people’s lives, the priority is to maintain the health system,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said, announcing the emergency. “In order to overcome this crisis caused by the delta strain, I ask for everyone’s cooperation.”
Japan’s state of emergency is based on requiring restaurants to close at 8 p.m. and not serve alcohol, but the measures are increasingly challenged. Inapplicable social distancing and telecommuting demands for the public and their employers are also largely ignored due to growing complacency.
The Japanese capital has been in a state of emergency since July 12, but new daily cases have more than increased tenfold since, reaching around 5,000 in Tokyo and 25,000 nationwide. Hospital beds fill up quickly and many people now have to recuperate at home, including some who need extra oxygen.
The government has come under fire for hosting the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this summer despite strong public opposition. Officials deny any direct link between the games and the spike in infections.
‘No sign’ of slowing Tokyo cases
More than 35,000 patients in Tokyo are recovering at home, about a third of whom could not immediately find a vacant hospital or hotel. According to experts, only a small percentage of hospitals welcome patients infected with the virus, either for financial reasons or because they lack the capacity to treat infections.
Japan has weathered the pandemic better than many other countries, with around 15,600 deaths in the country since the start, but its vaccination efforts have lagged behind other wealthy countries. About 40% of the population has been fully immunized, mostly older people.
Rising infections among schoolchildren and teens could accelerate the outbreak as they start returning to school after summer break, said Dr Shigeru Omi, the government’s senior medical adviser. He suggested schools cut back on activities and urged high schools and colleges to return to online classes.
“Infections in Tokyo show no signs of slowing down, and extremely tight medical systems will continue for some time,” he said in a parliamentary session on Wednesday.
–From The Associated Press, latest update 7:05 am ET
What is happening in Canada
What is happening in the world
As of Wednesday morning, more than 213.2 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. The death toll worldwide was over 4.4 million.
In the Americas, the United States could bring COVID-19 under control by early next year if vaccinations ramp up, said Dr Anthony Fauci, a day after Pfizer obtained full FDA approval for its vaccine, with further potential approvals to come in the coming weeks.
In the Middle EastIran reported a daily record 709 deaths from COVID-19 on Tuesday, the worst-affected country in the Middle East facing a fifth wave of infections.
In the Asia Pacific region, South Korea has reported 2,155 new cases of the coronavirus, almost matching a record daily increase set earlier this month amid an alarming spread of infections. With Wednesday’s report, the country has counted more than 1,000 new cases for 50 consecutive days, including a record 2,221 on August 11.
Pakistan on Wednesday reported 141 deaths from COVID-19, one of its highest tally since May. According to Pakistan’s National Command and Operations Center, more than 4,000 new coronavirus infections have also been reported in the past 24 hours.
In Africa, Nigeria recently approved China’s Sinopharm vaccine against COVID-19.
Europe The drug regulator has approved additional manufacturing sites for mRNA-based coronavirus vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.
Meanwhile, Switzerland is hit by a fourth wave with a “very worrying” increase in infections, the head of the government’s crisis team at the Federal Office of Public Health has said.
-From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 7 a.m. ET