Second wave of infections may be emerging in Japan
NHK -- May 29
Restrictions to contain the coronavirus are slowly being eased in Japan and life is starting to get back to normal. But the mayor of Kitakyushu City in southwestern Japan says COVID-19 cases are on the rise again.

Mayor Kitahashi Kenji is warning that the situation could get much worse. He said Kitakyushu "will be hit by a second big wave, if this situation continues. We hope that everyone recognizes that we may be heading for a very difficult situation, and respond firmly to get out of this crisis."

No new cases had been confirmed in the city for more than three weeks. But 43 have been confirmed in the past six days. Health officials have not been able to trace the route of infection in some cases.

Tourist spots and other facilities that had reopened closed again on Thursday. That's a disappointment for people who wanted to see Kokura Castle.

Also on Thursday, a possible cluster of infections came to light at a Tokyo hospital.

Nine staff members and patients have tested positive. Authorities say this could be the first cluster since the state of emergency for Tokyo was lifted on Monday.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide said the spread of infections has been mostly contained. "But it is difficult to totally eliminate the infection risk, even after the end of the state of emergency."

The health ministry estimates 44,000 hospital beds will be needed nationwide in a worst-case scenario. It gave a breakdown for 13 prefectures that were under what the government calls a "special alert."

Some, including Tokyo and Osaka, are securing at least the numbers of beds the ministry says are necessary. Others are showing a shortfall.

Hyogo and Saitama are securing fewer than 30 percent. Still, officials in Hyogo say they're convinced they will have enough beds for a second wave of COVID-19 cases.

They say the health ministry's numbers assume that no measures are taken.

Dr. Ohmagari Norio at the National Center for Global Health and Medicine is an expert on infectious diseases who has treated many COVID-19 patients.

He says numbers of cases grew so quickly during the first wave that the medical system struggled to keep up.

Ohmagari says it's crucial to prepare for a second wave now, during this "lull" in the outbreak.

Tokyo and four other prefectures were the last parts of Japan to come out of a state of emergency. The government made the announcement on Monday.

More than 16,700 people have tested positive in Japan. Over 880 have died.

News source: NHK
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