Please view the main text area of the page by skipping the main menu.

PM Suga asks business lobby to reduce commuters amid virus resurgence

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walk around Ueno Station in Tokyo on Aug. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Kantaro Komiya)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga asked Japan's largest business lobby Wednesday to help reduce the number of commuters through telework as the increasingly rampant novel coronavirus puts a strain on the country's medical system.

    Meeting Masakazu Tokura, chairman of the Japan Business Federation known as Keidanren, at its office in Tokyo, Suga said "Telework is an effective countermeasure. It may be difficult for some businesses to implement, but I ask for cooperation."

    Tokura responded that he will notify Keidanren members of the request with a view to slashing the number of commuters by 70 percent.

    Tokura told reporters after the meeting that he urged Suga to make "antibody cocktail" treatment widely available, to which Suga responded he would do so.

    The treatment, in which COVID-19 patients are administered casirivimab and imdevimab intravenously, lowers the risk of hospitalization or death by about 70 percent, according to overseas clinical trials.

    The meeting was held as Japan sees an unprecedented rise in coronavirus cases nationwide due to the highly contagious Delta variant.

    The total number of COVID-19 patients in severe condition rose to 1,716 as of Tuesday, up 70 from the day before and breaking the record for the sixth consecutive day, according to the health ministry. The figure had been on the decline after hitting a high of 1,413 on May 25, but it started to rise again from mid-July.

    Due to the increase in such patients, the government decided to extend the COVID-19 state of emergency covering Tokyo and five other areas to Sept. 12, while expanding the measure to seven more prefectures.

    During a press conference on Tuesday to explain the government decision, Suga said he would ask businesses to reduce the number of commuters by 70 percent as many did in spring last year.

    Also in The Mainichi

    The Mainichi on social media