January 8, 2022
Hiroshima and Yamaguchi Prefectures record numbers of COVID-19 cases as the Omicron variant rapidly becomes dominant and targeting business restrictions are imposed.
Yesterday, January 7, Hiroshima Prefecture recorded the highest one-day rise in the confirmed number of COVID-19 infections since the beginning of the pandemic yesterday. 429 new cases announced, up from 156 the previous day.
Number of cases in Hiroshima have quadrupled in 3 days. People in the 20s account for 145 of the cases and 70 are in their teens. In terms of symptoms, although most only light symptoms (391 people), 3 people are reported to be in semi-critical condition. 36 are asymptomatic. [Source]
In Yamaguchi Prefecture, a new record of 180 daily cases was announced with 61 cases in Iwakuni. A further 91 cases confirmed on the MCAS Iwakuni US air base were also announced, bring the total number of cases confirmed on tbe base since December to almost 700.
Omicron likely dominant strain in the Hiroshima region
In contrast to the Delta variant, which took 70 days to account for over 70% of cases, the Omicron variant reached the same level in just 10 days. Chugoku Shinbun reports that it is likely that up to 90% of cases in Hiroshima Prefecture are now of the Omicron variant. [Source]
The good news is that, as is being reported in other countries, the number of critical cases due to the Omicron variant is currently low. As of January 6, only 6 of 672 cases were critical or semi critical, compared to 36 cases out of 600 cases on August 6 last year during the 5th wave. Experts warn, however, that it is still not clear how hard the new variant will hit the elderly population and urge people to continue to remain diligent about following COVID-19 infection prevention measures. [Source]
As of January 7, the 46 available COVID-19 hospital beds in Hiroshima Prefecture area 28.4% capacity (137) and there are 390 patients are being monitored in hotel rooms.
Quasi-emergency declared, restrictions imposed
A “state of quasi-emergency” (manenboshi in Japanese) has been declared in 13 town and cities in Hiroshima Prefecture and targeted restrictions are to be applied in Iwakuni and Waki in Yamaguchi Prefecture.
Bars and restaurants in Hiroshima City, Kure, Takehara, Mihara, Onomichi, Fukuyama, Otake, Higashihiroshima, Hatsukaichi and Etajima, Fuchu Town, Kaita and Saka are asked to close at 8 pm, and refrain from serving alcohol. Compliance is required by Sunday, January 11 at the latest and restrictions are set to stay in place until January 31. We are already seeing places opting to close altogether until the end of the state of emergency.
Of course, this coming Monday is national Coming of Age Day on which 20 years olds across the nation celebrate adulthood at large public ceremonies and drinking parties. Some of the long weekend’s planned Coming of Age ceremonies have been postponed until the spring, but the Hiroshima governor has asked people attending any that are going ahead to refrain from gathering to eat and drink after the ceremonies and switch any planned drinking parties to online. [Source]
Watch Hiroshima Prefectural governor Yuzaki’s January 7 press conference (in Japanese).
The quasai-emergency buiness restrictions outlined above to be extended to all of Hiroshima Prefecture from January 14, 2022 in light of the increasing number of COVID-19 infections in rural areas.