Hiroshima’s Golden Week holiday kicked off with 76 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the prefecture on April 29 and 99 on April 30.
A total of 2686 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the 5 prefectures that make up the Chugoku region during April, the first time the monthly number has exceeded 2000 since the midst of the “3rd Wave” back in December 2020.
The most cases (1253) were recorded in Okayama Prefecture which borders the Kansai region which has seen a huge spike in the number of cases recently. Hiroshima had 844 confirmed cases, Yamaguchi 416 cases, Shimane 113 and Tottori 60.
288 of Hiroshima’s new cases in April have been confirmed to be new variants and experts expect that these strains will become increasingly dominant.
More beds and stronger prevention measures likely
On April 29, Hiroshima governor Yuzaki commented that although PCR testing has been made more widely and easily available in Hiroshima, further measures have to be considered. These include testing at all companies with 10 or more employees (approximately 400,000 people) and the reduction of business hours similar to those introduced in spring last year.
Hiroshima city mayor Matsui noted his concern that 70% of the 76 new cases confirmed in the city were people under the age of 40, at a press conference on April 29. Coming of age ceremonies, already postponed from January until May 2, will now be moved online.
Hiroshima has increased the number of hospital beds available for COVID-19 patients by 97 to a total of 386 beds with plans to increase the number further to 481 after Golden Week. As of April 29, 36.8% of available hospital beds and 88.6% of the 547 hotel rooms designated for quarantine are in use.
Source: Chugoku Shinbun
4th wave washes away Golden Week plans
People are being asked to avoid travel during Golden Week and to avoid dining with people outside one’s own family. Hiroshima Station has reportedly been much less crowded than in a usual year, but considerably more so than a year ago.
The planned admission of limited numbers of pre-booked spectators to the much scaled down Hiroshima Flower Festival events to be held in the former baseball stadium site over Golden Week has been canceled due to rising numbers of COVID-19 cases. The events will now be streamed online instead. Two of the city center kagura shows which only restarted last month planned for May have been canceled. As of now, there are no changes to admission to Hiroshima Carp games at Mazda Stadium and photos from the annual athletics meet at Edion Stadium on April 29 showed many spectators, although masked, sitting closely together.
Dining hours in Okayama restricted and battering of Hiroshima nightlife continues
2500 restaurants and bars in Okayama City are to close at 8pm with alcohol sales finishing at 7pm, May 3-16.
Businesses in the nightlife industry continue to struggle with 102 late night bars in the Nagarekawacho nightlife district closing down in the first 3 months of the year, with 95 closing in March alone. This is already over half the number that shut down during the whole of 2020 (234 businesses).
40 so-called “social dining establishments” such as hostess bars and clubs also filed closure papers January to March, following the closure of 148 similar businesses in 120. [Source]