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COVID spread in Japan 'order of magnitude' greater than previous waves: gov't minister

TOKYO -- The spread of coronavirus infections across Japan is "an order of magnitude" greater than anything seen during the pandemic so far, minister in charge of the country's COVID-19 response Yasutoshi Nishimura stated on Aug. 5.

    "Not just in the national capital region, but starting with the Kansai area and northern Kanto region (in western and eastern Japan, respectively), the number of new infections has surged across the whole country at levels we have never seen before," Nishimura said at a meeting of the government's Advisory Committee on the Basic Action Policy. "The rate of increase is an order of magnitude greater."

    The minister continued, "We are now seeing (COVID-19) clusters where we'd seldom seen them before, such as at department stores, hairdressers and cram schools. Especially at department stores, there have been a lot of infections in basement and first-floor sections, where there are a lot of people.

    "It appears that rail and airline reservations for the Bon holiday (in August) are up 20-30% from last year's," Nishimura went on. "That could raise the real risk of bringing infections from big cities to regional areas."

    (Japanese original by Aoi Hanazawa, Political New Department)

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