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Japan’s top COVID-19 adviser says peak of 5th wave over

16 September 2021 15:11

TOKYO. KAZINFORM - Japan's top COVID-19 adviser Shigeru Omi said Thursday that the peak of the fifth coronavirus wave has largely passed, but warned that a close eye must still be kept on the country's overburdened medical system, Kyodo reports.

Speaking to the House of Councillors' health committee, Omi attributed the downtrend in infections to a «combination of factors,» namely the progress of vaccinations, reduced foot traffic, suspension of alcohol in dining establishments and high rate of mask-wearing.

But he cautioned that hastily easing anti-pandemic restrictions on people's lives could lead to a «sixth wave» of infections, especially with colder weather approaching.

«We should be aware that the number of hospital beds (for COVID-19 patients) will not increase five to six-fold all at once,» Omi said, as he called on the government to speed up the construction of temporary medical facilities.

With the medical system still under strain from an influx of COVID-19 patients, much of Japan will remain under a state of emergency through Sept. 30. Government data shows slightly over half of Japan's population has been fully vaccinated so far against COVID-19.

The government seeks to ease the scope of COVID-19 restrictions under a state of emergency around November, when it aims to complete vaccinating all people who wish to be inoculated. The plan includes letting eateries provide alcohol and allowing people to travel across prefectural borders and hold big events with more attendees even if the state of emergency is still in force.