Japanese PM pledges all-out efforts to help Hokkaido tackle COVID-19 spike

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, November 10, 2020
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TOKYO, Nov. 10 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Tuesday vowed all-out efforts to help the country's northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido tackle a recent resurgence of COVID-19 infections.

Hokkaido Governor Naomichi Suzuki visited Suga at the prime minister's office and briefed the Japanese leader on the latest spike in COVID-19 infections in Hokkaido.

The spike was believed to be related to cooler temperatures as more people stayed indoors, sometimes in poorly ventilated rooms, which helped the virus to spread.

Nighttime entertainment establishments have also seen clusters of infections emerge, local officials have said.

Officials in Hokkaido reported 200 new daily COVID-19 infections the previous day, marking the highest level for the region since the outbreak of the virus in Japan.

Infections in Hokkaido have been in triple digits for four successive days through Sunday, with officials raising the pandemic alert level for Hokkaido to level three on its five-tier scale.

Rising infections in Hokkaido, a popular travel destination, could see it cut from the government's "Go To Travel" subsidy campaign.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato has intimated that removing Hokkaido from the domestic travel campaign was a possibility and discussions in this direction were taking place.

Suzuki told Suga that the prefecture was planning to contain the outbreak of new clusters and would increase the number of beds at medical facilities for those infected and needing professional care.

The governor also explained that in Sapporo City, the capital off Hokkaido, new facilities will be utilized to treat 1,000 patients with minor symptoms from the pneumonia-causing virus.

If infections continue to increase and spread throughout Japan's northernmost prefecture, Suzuki the central government to provide assistance, as medical personnel and facilities would quickly be in short supply.

The governor also said he wanted the public to be informed of how to prevent infections during winter as the nation will also be contending with an influenza outbreak, which tends to hit the country each year towards the end of December.

At a press briefing after his meeting with the prime minister, Suzuki said he planned to have the new outbreak of the virus under control by the end of this month and would carry out antiviral measures including comprehensive testing measures in entertainment districts with support from the central government.

Suga, for his part, pledged the central government's all-out efforts in helping Hokkaido combat the virus.

The Tokyo metropolitan government, meanwhile, on Tuesday, confirmed 293 new cases of the novel coronavirus in the capital.

The latest figure comes on the heels of 157 new daily cases reported Monday, with the figure dipping from 189 infections confirmed on Sunday, the latest figures showed.

Tokyo, the hardest-hit by the virus, has now seen its cumulative total of infections rise to 33,060 cases, the metropolitan government said. Enditem

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