August 21 2020
Japan’s coronavirus task force compiled on Friday draft guidelines on vaccination that say the government should prioritize inoculating medical workers, the elderly and those with underlying illnesses.
The same day, Tokyo confirmed 258 more cases of the novel coronavirus, compared with 339 reported Thursday and the average daily tally over the most recent seven days of 256.6.
Across the country an additional 1,033 cases were reported, bringing the cumulative total to 61,699, including about 700 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined in Yokohama in February. The death toll rose to 1,188.
“In order to keep deaths and severe cases to a minimum, and to protect the lives and health of our citizens, we need to establish a system for vaccination,” Shigeru Omi, who heads the task force, told reporters following its meeting.
The task force is also discussing whether pregnant women, emergency workers and staff at public health centers should be included in the priority group for vaccination.
The World Health Organization has said there are 169 candidate vaccines, and that clinical trials have commenced on 30 of them.
Omi noted the possibility that a vaccine may produce serious side effects. “People are pinning their hopes (on a vaccine) so it’s important to present accurate information,” he said.
The task force also said the resurgence of the virus, which began in Japan in June, hit its peak in late July.
But it also warned that the surging trend could restart, citing that some areas are still reporting high numbers of new cases and that more people traveled across the country during this month’s Bon holiday period.
In Tokyo, the number of patients with severe symptoms and who are hospitalized decreased to 33 on Friday from the previous day’s 36, the metropolitan government said.
The capital has raised its alert for the pandemic to the highest of four levels, meaning “infections are spreading.”
The metropolitan government has requested that establishments serving alcohol and karaoke venues close by 10 p.m. until the end of August to reduce the risk of infection.