|Shigeru Omi, chairman of a government subcommittee on the coronavirus response, speaks during a House of Councillors committee session in Tokyo on Sept. 16, 2021. (Photo by=Mainichi/Kan Takeuchi)|
[Asia News = Reporter Reakkana] 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 reported.
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 completely vaccinate all people who wish to be inoculated.