Japan endures its worst COVID-19 wave, as strict entry rules deter tourists


Japan, which was praised for keeping its coronavirus cases and deaths largely under control earlier in the pandemic, is experiencing its most severe coronavirus wave so far and has become a hotspot for the virus in East Asia.

The country still has restrictions on the number of foreign tourists allowed to enter and strict rules that limit movement for those willing to visit.

At 1,476,374, Japan reported the world’s highest number of weekly cases during the week to August 21, according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) latest epidemiological update on the COVID-19 pandemic.

It also recorded the second-highest number of deaths in the world after the United States, with 1,624, the WHO said in its weekly update.

Kentaro Iwata, a professor of infectious diseases at Kobe University, told the ABC the seventh wave has been driven by the BA.5 Omicron variant, a lack of immunity and low vaccination among young people.

The wave of cases has been driven by the Omicron variant.(Reuters: Kim Kyung-Hoon)

Professor Iwata said Japan managed to keep outbreaks of previous Omicron variants under control, unlike the US and many European countries, meaning there was less immunity in the community.

“We protected ourselves from the infections up until recently, which means we lacked the immunity given by the natural infection. Therefore we are very susceptible to many infections,” he said.

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