Expert panel: Pace of decline in cases is slowing

NHK -- Feb 25
A panel of experts at Japan's health ministry has pointed out that the number of new cases of the coronavirus in the country has been declining at a slower pace since mid-February.

The panel met on Wednesday to discuss the situations mainly in the 10 prefectures currently covered by the state of emergency declaration.

The data submitted show the average number of new cases in the week through Tuesday was 0.85 times that of the previous week across the country.

Of the six prefectures for which the state of emergency may be lifted earlier than planned, the figure is 0.82 times in Osaka, 0.72 times in Hyogo, 0.65 times in Kyoto, 0.70 times in Aichi, and 0.76 times in Fukuoka.

The rate of decline was the fastest in Gifu at 0.53 times.

Of the other four prefectures in the greater Tokyo area, the rate was 0.86 times in Tokyo, 0.88 times in Kanagawa, and 0.92 times in Saitama, while the rate increased to 1.03 times in Chiba.

Data also show that while clusters of infections have occurred mainly at medical institutions, welfare facilities and people's homes, some areas continue to report clusters at restaurants. It was also reported that the decline in the number of cases among the young shows a sign of bottoming out.

Based on these figures, the experts warned that while the number of new infections continues to fall, the pace of decline is slowing down, and could bottom out.

They also noted that the burden on healthcare workers is easing as the numbers of hospitalizations, severe cases and deaths continue to decrease. But they warned that the adverse impacts are not expected to be resolved soon.

The experts warned that even if the state of emergency is lifted, measures to prevent a resurgence of infections should remain in place, as people tend to gather at this time of the year for farewell and welcome parties as well as cherry blossom viewing events.

They also called for stepping up testing and epidemiological surveys.