9th COVID wave in Japan could cause many deaths, experts predict

NHK -- Apr 20

Japanese experts say a ninth wave of the coronavirus in the country could cause many deaths, mainly of elderly people.

Four experts with the health ministry compiled a document on a possible ninth wave of infections in the country. They include Wakita Takaji, who chairs the ministry's expert panel, and Tohoku University Professor Oshitani Hitoshi.

The document points to a recent upturn in the number of infections in more areas of Japan as coronavirus-related restrictions have been eased.

The experts refer to a survey carried out in February and March that shows only 32.1 percent of the country's population had been infected with the virus and developed antibodies.

They say the low percentage of people with antibodies suggests that the ninth wave could be bigger than the eighth one last winter.

The document also says that if the percentage of vaccinated people remains low in a larger wave of infections, the number of deaths will be hovering at a higher level than other countries. It says the deaths could include many elderly people, as Japan's population is rapidly aging.

The government is set to downgrade the legal classification of COVID-19 in May.