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Japan city in '2nd wave' of coronavirus crisis to resume dispersed school attendance

The Kitakyushu Municipal Government building (Mainichi/Kimiya Tanabe)
A special worker is seen disinfecting the Moritsune Elementary School building, where a cluster infection is thought to have taken place, in Kitakyushu on May 29, 2020. (Mainichi/Noriko Tokuno)

KITAKYUSHU -- The mayor of this southwestern Japan city has revealed plans to resume dispersed school attendance for municipal elementary and junior high schools, as the number of confirmed cases of novel coronavirus infections continues to climb in the Fukuoka Prefecture municipality.

Kitakyushu Mayor Kenji Kitahashi made the announcement at a regularly scheduled press conference on June 3. Municipal elementary and junior high school students are currently attending school only in the mornings.

A total of 12 students from five municipal elementary and junior high schools had been infected with the coronavirus by June 2. Referring to an elementary school in the city's Kokuraminami Ward, where a cluster of five students aged 10 or over have contracted the virus, Mayor Kitahashi said, "It may be the first case of a cluster found at an elementary school in Japan." The mayor also revealed that he had requested an increase in the number of officials dispatched from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare's "cluster" team.

A total of 119 people in Kitakyushu were determined to be infected with the novel coronavirus in the 11 days beginning May 23. It is believed that cluster infections have sprung up at three emergency hospitals -- the Hospital of the University of Occupational and Environmental Health in Yahatanishi Ward, Kitakyushu General Hospital in Kokurakita Ward, and Moji Medical Center in Moji Ward -- wreaking havoc on the local emergency medical system.

Kitahashi has indicated his understanding that the city is in the midst of a "second wave" of coronavirus infections, and at his news conference on June 3, called on residents to refrain from going out for non-essential reasons to prevent infections from spreading.

(Japanese original by Takuya Inoue and Eijiro Matsuda, Kyushu News Department)

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