Asia Today: Japan crosses 100,000 cases, 9 months after 1st

Japan’s health ministry says coronavirus cases have topped 100,000, nine months after the first case was found in mid-January

Experts say Japan has so far managed to avoid “explosive” infections as in Europe and the U.S. without enforcing lockdowns, most likely thanks to the common use of face masks and disinfectant, as well as other common preventive measures including social distancing.

Japan had a nationwide state of emergency in April and May, and experienced a less serious second wave in August, but has since been seeing a slight uptrend in new cases in northern Japanese prefectures, setting off concerns of a surge in the winter.

Experts have urged extra caution at dining and drinking parties and workplaces. According to health ministry data, nearly half of the new cases were in their 20s and 30s.

Japan’s northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido this week raised an warning level after finding major clusters in urban entertainment districts.

Experts on Thursday also urged caution in Tokyo where daily count has fluctuated between 100s and 200s.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— India reported 48,648 new coronavirus cases, continuing a monthlong slowing trend in infections even as the country adds to its 8 million cases. The Health Ministry also reported 563 more fatalities in the past 24 hours, raising the death toll to 121,090 on Friday. Even as cases are dropping nationwide, New Delhi is facing what could be a third wave of infections. The capital is India’s worst-hit city and is among the few regions in the country seeing further new infections, clocking more than 5,000 daily the last three days. The surge comes while seasonal pollution levels are soaring in the capital, worsening respiratory illnesses.

— Sri Lankan authorities have asked state employees to resume working from home in major townships as coronavirus infections continue to surge. The president’s office says government offices in Western province, where the recent outbreak has been concentrated, have been asked to switch to remote work as well. Sri Lanka had lifted work-from-home measures when community infections subsided. But clusters emerging from a garment factory earlier this month and later from the country’s main wholesale fish market have resulted in a surge in infections and subsequent restrictions. So far, 9,791 COVID-19 patients have been reported in the island nation including 19 deaths.

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