A Hong Kong Official Quarantined After Possible Coronavirus Exposure At A Party
A senior Hong Kong official was sent to quarantine after attending a birthday party with a person who later tested positive for the coronavirus, the government said on Thursday, fueling public scorn in a city facing the threat of a new wave of the pandemic.
Hong Kong has largely managed to keep the coronavirus at bay, but health officials have warned that the Omicron variant could change that. Carrie Lam, the chief executive, announced a series of new restrictions on Wednesday, including a two-week ban on flights from eight countries, among them the United States.
Mrs. Lam said Thursday that she was disappointed in the officials who attended the party on Monday, days after Hong Kong began reporting the local spread of Omicron cases. The first local cluster of the variant is believed to have started on Dec. 27, when a flight attendant for Cathay Pacific violated quarantine to dine out with family members.
While Mondays party did not break any current rules, it was a bad look at a time when the government has been urging extra caution.
But Mrs. Lam dismissed comparisons between her and the management of Cathay Pacific, whom she had criticized for its staffs rule violations.
If all you want is for me to say the chief executive should take responsibility for every matter and every action of the principal officials, this is not the duty of chief executive, she said at a news conference. All I can say is we are making an all-out effort in fighting the epidemic.
New York Will Send Officers To Subways In Bid To Lure More Riders Back
New York City will require police officers to conduct more frequent and regular sweeps of the subway system and work with homeless outreach teams to reassure current riders and lure back more commuters to a transit system that needs them, Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a joint announcement on Thursday.
The plan mirrors one that Mr. Adams promoted repeatedly during his mayoral campaign: the redeployment of some officers across the transit system and a partnership with trained health professionals who can better address the needs of unhoused and mentally ill people.
As transit officials have tried to lure back riders who fled the system at the start of the pandemic and have yet to fully return, they have been contending for more than a year with a persistent perception that the subway system is unsafe.
For months, officials have emphasized that serious crimes in the system are at their lowest numbers in decades. Through November, major felonies murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary and grand larceny were at their lowest combined total in 25 years.
Still, the overall drop in crime may have been expected given the precipitous drop in ridership, which during the pandemic pushed the per rider crime rate higher than it has been in recent years and has added to a perception of greater danger.
Troy Closson, Ashley Southall and Jonah E. Bromwich contributed reporting.
With Over 70% Fully Vaccinated Japan Ranks In Top Three Among G7
- Medical staff prepare doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine to be administered at newly-opened mass vaccination center in Tokyo on Sunday. | REUTERS
Over 70% of Japans population has been fully inoculated against COVID-19, government data showed Tuesday, ranking the country among the top three in the Group of Seven nations after an initially slow vaccine rollout.
Of Japans population of 125 million, 70.1% had received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the government.
Once vaccinations for people other than medical workers and priority groups started in April, the vaccine rollout in Japan has been progressing steadily. Other G7 members, such as the United States and Britain, were initially far ahead of Japan in inoculating their populations but have seen their vaccination rates slow after reaching 60%.
The inoculation rate in Japan is now almost on par with Italy, which is second only to Canada, where 72.65% of the total population had been vaccinated as of Oct. 16.
Among people aged 65 and over in Japan, 90.4% had been fully vaccinated as of Monday, compared with 60.8% of people in their 30s, 57.0% in their 20s and 47.7% of those between the ages of 12 and 19.
A total of 185.98 million doses have been administered in the country, with 76.7% of the population having received at least one dose, the data showed.
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Japan Requests Lockdowns On Us Military Bases As Cases Jump
TOKYO Japan asked the United States on Thursday to impose lockdowns on its military bases in the country as it tries to stanch a rapid climb in Covid infections linked in part to outbreaks among American service members.
While Japan has not yet seen the kind of explosion in cases experienced by other countries grappling with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, daily case numbers passed 2,600 on Wednesday after remaining in the low hundreds through late December.
The government of Japan is deeply concerned about the spread of infections on Japanese and American military facilities and in the surrounding areas, the chief cabinet secretary, Hirokazu Matsuno, told reporters.
Japans foreign minister, Yoshimasa Hayashi, made the lockdown request to his American counterpart, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, during a phone call to discuss diplomatic issues, Mr. Matsuno said. It was unclear what steps the United States would take.
The spread of the virus on American military bases in Japan has outpaced that in the country at large, and local authorities have linked outbreaks in their communities to contact among residents and U.S. personnel.
Japan has largely closed its borders to foreigners since the beginning of the pandemic, and it further tightened restrictions soon after the first cases of Omicron were identified in southern Africa in November. Travelers to Japan must present a negative Covid test before departure.
These Countries Did Well With Covid So Why Are They Slow On Vaccines
Japan, South Korea and Australia have inoculated tiny percentages of their populations. The delays risk unwinding their relative successes.
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All through last year, as first Europe and then the United States suffered catastrophically high coronavirus infections and deaths, Pacific Rim countries staved off disaster through an array of methods. South Korea tested widely. Australia and New Zealand locked down. In Japan, people donned masks and heeded calls to isolate.
Now, the roles have been reversed. These countries that largely subdued the virus are among the slowest in the developed world to vaccinate their residents, while countries like Britain and the United States that suffered grievous outbreaks are leapfrogging ahead with inoculations.
The United States has fully vaccinated close to a quarter of the population, and Britain has given first shots to nearly half of its residents. By contrast, Australia and South Korea have vaccinated less than 3 percent of their populations, and in Japan and New Zealand, not even 1 percent of the population has received a shot.
To some extent, the laggards are taking advantage of the luxury of time that their comparatively low infection and death counts afford. And they all rely on vaccines developed and, for now, manufactured elsewhere.
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Portugal Eases Pandemic Restrictions On Those With Booster Shots
Portugals government said on Thursday it would loosen pandemic rules for people who have received a booster dose of the coronavirus vaccine, in order to encourage residents to maintain the countrys status as one of Europes most vaccinated.
People who have received a booster will no longer be required to present a negative Covid test to attend events or enter sites where that is otherwise mandatory.
People with booster shots will also no longer have to isolate themselves after coming in contact with a person diagnosed with the coronavirus, unless the infected person lives with them. People without booster shots will still be required to isolate after any contact.
The new rules, announced by Prime Minister António Costa, will come into force on Monday.
Portugal is relaxing its rules in part to forestall staff shortages and disruptions in workplaces and schools as it grapples with the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, which is better at bypassing vaccine protection than earlier virus variants were.
Portugal mounted one of Europes most successful vaccination rollouts last year, and 89 percent of its population of about 10 million people has now been fully vaccinated, Mr. Costa said. About three million residents have also received a booster so far.
With Roughly 2 Percent Of Japan Vaccinated Pressure To Cancel Olympics Intensifies
A new poll shows a majority of people in Japan want to halt the games.
Story at a glance
- A majority of Japanese citizens said they do not want the 2020 Olympics to commence.
- The games are slated to be held in Tokyo and will run from the end of July to early August.
- The vaccination rate in Japan is relatively low as cases have been spiking.
The upcoming Tokyo Games have met a roadblock in public opinion, with a new poll suggesting that roughly 60 percent of Japans residents would like the games to be canceled again.
Based on data gathered by the paper Yomiuri Shimbun daily, 59 percent of respondents said they would like the games to be canceled, whereas 39 percent said that they should go on as planned.
Twenty-three percent of respondents who indicated the games should commence said that they should occur without spectators present.
The games are set to run from July 23 to Aug. 8.
Current data from the World Health Organization indicates that there have been more than 7,000 new cases reported in Japan as of May 10.
Reuters notes that Olympic Games official John Coates said on Saturday that the Japanese sentiment regarding the games was a concern, but still anticipates thegGames to move ahead.
The vaccination rate in the country is also relatively low. While the WHO counts about 3.5 million vaccine doses having been administered, this amounts to just 2.76 doses per 100 people.
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Japan: Biweekly Deaths: Where Are Confirmed Deaths Increasing Or Falling
Why is it useful to look at biweekly changes in deaths?
For all global data sources on the pandemic, daily data does not necessarily refer to deaths on that day but to the deaths reported on that day.
Since reporting can vary significantly from day to day irrespectively of any actual variation of deaths it is helpful to look at a longer time span that is less affected by the daily variation in reporting. This provides a clearer picture of where the pandemic is accelerating, staying the same, or reducing.
The first map here provides figures on the number of confirmed deaths in the last two weeks. To enable comparisons across countries it is expressed per million people of the population.
And the second map shows the growth rate over this period: blue are all those countries in which the death count in the last two weeks was lower than in the two weeks before. In red countries the death count has increased.
The following chart shows the share of the total population that has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This represents the share that have received all doses prescribed by the vaccination protocol. If a person receives the first dose of a 2-dose vaccine, this metric stays the same. If they receive the second dose, the metric goes up by 1.
This data is only available for countries which report the breakdown of doses administered by first and second doses.
Over 70% Fully Vaccinated In Japan Among Top 3 In G
KYODO NEWS – Oct 26, 2021 – 18:45 | All, Japan, Coronavirus
Over 70 percent of Japan’s population has been fully inoculated against COVID-19, government data showed Tuesday, ranking the country among the top three in the Group of Seven nations after an initially slow vaccine rollout.
Of Japan’s population of 125 million, 70.1 percent had received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the government.
A person is given an AstraZeneca vaccine shot against COVID-19 in Osaka on Aug. 23, 2021.
The inoculation rate is now almost on par with Italy, which is second only to Canada, where 72.65 percent of the total population had been vaccinated as of Oct. 16.
G-7 members the United States and Britain, which were initially far ahead of Japan in inoculating their populations, have seen their vaccination rates slow after reaching 60 percent.
Among people aged 65 and over in Japan, 90.4 percent had been fully vaccinated as of Monday, compared with 60.8 percent of people in their 30s, 57.0 percent in their 20s and 47.7 percent of those aged between 12 and 19.
A total of 185.98 million doses have been administered in the country, with 76.7 percent of the population having received at least one dose, the data showed.
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Has The Rollout Been Even Across All Areas
Across the country, there continues to be some variation in the vaccine programme.
Scotland has vaccinated 92% of those aged 12 and over with at least one dose, while Wales and England have reached 90% and Northern Ireland 87%.
Second doses are also being rolled out, with all nations reaching more than 80% of over-12s so far.
Across the English regions, the South West has vaccinated 86% of the same age group with at least one dose, while London has reached 68%.
When looking at boosters, the South West has reached 57% of people aged 12 and over, while for London the figure is 36%.
Another way of measuring booster uptake is to look at the people who were double jabbed before October, as you must wait at least three months to get a booster after your second jab.
Among the nations, Scotland leads the way, with about 73% of those who were double jabbed by early October receiving a booster as of 22 December. England wasn’t far behind, with 71% coverage.
Data for Wales was slightly behind other nations, but as of 19 December it had 59% uptake.
The figures may differ from those for booster uptake in the population, which include some people not yet eligible for a booster jab.
There have also been disparities between ethnic groups and poorer and wealthier areas.
Analysis of NHS records by the OpenSAFELY group – a collaboration between Oxford University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine – shows that black people were the least likely to have received a vaccine.
Japan Passes 50% Vaccination Rate May Ease Limits In Nov
TOKYO Japans government says more than 50% of the population has been fully vaccinated.
Japans vaccine rollouts began in mid-February, months behind many wealthy countries due to its lengthy clinical testing requirement and approval process. Inoculations for elderly patients, which started in April, were also slowed by supply shortages of imported vaccines, but the pace picked up in late May and has since achieved 1 million doses per day.
Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who is in charge of COVID-19 measures, told NHK public televisions weekly talk show Sunday that about 60% of the population is expected to be fully vaccinated by the end of September, on par with current levels in Europe.
The government is studying a roadmap for easing restrictions around November when a large majority of the population is expected to be fully vaccinated. That would allow fully vaccinated people and those who test negative to travel, gather for parties or attend mass events.
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Opinion: Why Is Japan Failing So Badly On Vaccinations
William Pesek is a Tokyo-based writer and author of Japanization: What the World Can Learn from Japans Lost Decades.
Japan, which is still planning to host the Tokyo Olympics this July, finds itself in a truly awkward position trailing Colombia, Latvia and Turkey in the global vaccination race.
A nation famed for first-world logistical competence is running dead last among the 37 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development members, the club of wealthy nations. This dismal performance isnt just imperiling the Olympics or the worlds third-biggest economy. Its challenging basic notions about whether Japan can change at all.
Japans 1.6 percent rate of vaccination puts it on par with Myanmar, a failed state not exactly a ringing endorsement of Tokyos shambolic rollout, quips longtime Tokyo resident Jeff Kingston, head of Asia studies at Temple Universitys local campus. This is an own goal of epic proportions.
There are many explanations for why Japan has been so glacial about inoculating its population . One is that Prime Minister Yoshihide Sugas Liberal Democratic Party was betting on domestic drugmakers to come up with a homegrown vaccine. When none materialized, Tokyo joined the long line of other nations competing to source vaccines from outside suppliers.
Now Japan faces its very worst fear: flopping on the world stage.
Japan: From Vaccine Hesitancy To Vaccine Success
It seems hard to believe now, but at the beginning of June, I was seriously contemplating flying to the United States to get a Covid vaccine.
With just seven weeks to go until the Olympics, only 3.5% of Japan’s population had been fully vaccinated. While friends in the UK were merrily posting vaccine selfies on social media, here in the capital Tokyo, we were joking we might not see a needle till Christmas.
With the Olympics about to open, it seemed astonishing the Japanese government had bungled the vaccine rollout so badly.
Six months later, it couldn’t be more different.
Not only has Japan succeeded in overcoming the early chaos, it’s managed to get a higher percentage of its population vaccinated than almost anywhere else on Earth. Some 76% of Japanese are now fully immunised.
The Olympics was key.
Remember, back in July, the large street protests demanding the games be cancelled? There was real anger and fear the games would turn in to a super-spreader event.
Horrified that their big event might be ruined, the politicians finally got their act together.
The army was called in and by the beginning of July, a million shots were being given each day.
But it’s not just the logistical turnaround that’s been a surprise it’s how willing Japanese people have been to get the vaccines. In the over-80 age group, 95% have now had their shots – no sign of vaccine hesitancy there.
But that is not what was predicted.
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