April 22, 2024

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Japan 10th COVID Wave: COVID-19 Hospitalizations Remain High

Japan 10th COVID Wave: COVID-19 Hospitalizations Remain High

Japan 10th COVID Wave: COVID-19 Hospitalizations Remain High. Why Are Some Experiencing Short-Term COVID Reinfections? 

Despite efforts to prevent infection, many have reported contracting the novel coronavirus during what is being called the “tenth wave.”

The reporter interviewed with Dr. Shigeyuki Kinouchi, chairman of the Ebara Medical Association in Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo, about the trends in this tenth wave and the measures to protect oneself from future waves of infection. [Sumire Kokue]

“Patients are getting infected repeatedly. We see patients coming in for the second or third time.”

Dr. Kinouchi, who has been practicing at a community-based hospital near the old Nakahara Kaido road with its retro townscape, issues a warning.

There are patients who have been infected twice a year or who get reinfected every two to three months. The immunity and preventive effects against infection and onset, enhanced by vaccination or contracting COVID-19, last only for a short period.

The typical symptoms of the tenth wave are fever, sore throat, cough, and runny nose, similar to before. Many cases are entirely asymptomatic.

“However, the peak has passed.”

According to estimates by JAMDAS (Japan Clinical Epidemiology Study), the tenth wave began in December last year and peaked around February 3rd. JAMDAS estimates the number of COVID-19 patients nationwide based on the number of patients diagnosed with the novel coronavirus at fixed medical institutions, and it has been found to accurately reflect the actual situation from past cases.

One notable feature Dr. Kinouchi observed on the ground is the low rate of severe cases.

“I have almost never seen cases of young people getting seriously ill and hospitalized. This is significantly different from the summer 2021 outbreak. At that time, there were many cases of people in their 40s and 50s who were not vaccinated getting seriously ill and dying. Currently, there are many cases of hospitalization for elderly people from a preventive standpoint, especially if they do not have family members to care for them or have underlying conditions.”

With the transition to the fifth category of COVID-19 response, legal regulations for infected individuals have mostly been lifted, except for the School Health and Safety Act, which requires a five-day absence from school from the onset of symptoms. Even in the midst of the tenth wave, there are still people on trains coughing or sneezing without wearing masks.

Dr. Kinouchi says, “It is important not to leave crisis management to others.” He believes that as long as individuals can make flexible decisions based on their circumstances, such as wearing masks because COVID-19 is prevalent or staying home if feeling unwell, there should be no problem.

Should people continue to receive vaccinations with the updated vaccine?

Dr. Kinouchi raises reasons such as a decrease in the rate of severe cases, a decrease in the probability of developing lingering effects, and the possibility of a more virulent virus emerging not being completely zero, saying, “I hope that people will continue to receive vaccinations. For those who experienced strong side effects, it is important to weigh the pros and cons and make a decision.”

“Some people feel that if the rate of severe cases decreases, it is not as scary as influenza, but they also feel that antiviral drugs are less effective against COVID-19 compared to influenza. So, as a doctor, I prefer COVID-19,” he adds.

Japan 10th COVID Wave: COVID-19 Hospitalizations Remain High

COVID-19 and Influenza Cases Remain High, Hospitalizations Comparable to 9th Wave, Experts Urge Continued Vigilance in Preventive Measures

Both COVID-19 and influenza cases continue to remain high, with the number of hospitalizations due to the novel coronavirus reaching levels comparable to the peak of the 9th wave last summer. Experts are urging the public to continue practicing basic infection prevention measures such as wearing masks, washing hands, and ensuring good ventilation.

Since May last year, COVID-19 has been classified under the same category as influenza in Japan’s Infectious Diseases Act. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare currently estimates the prevalence of both based on patient reports from approximately 5,000 designated medical institutions nationwide.

In the week leading up to February 11th, an average of 13.75 new COVID-19 cases were reported per institution. By prefecture, Ishikawa had the highest rate at 21.91, followed by Aichi at 20.06. While the national average has seen a decrease for the first time in about three months, the current trend could be considered the “10th wave” of the outbreak, with an increasing detection rate of the new variant “JN-1,” which is thought to evade immunity.

During the same period, the number of new hospitalizations reported by approximately 500 designated medical institutions nationwide was 3,257, similar to the level seen during the 9th wave. Those aged 70 and above, who are at higher risk of severe illness, accounted for over 70% of these cases.

Influenza, on the other hand, saw an average of 23.93 cases per institution, marking a 30% decrease from the peak in early December, but showing an increase for the fifth consecutive week. Fukuoka had the highest rate at 56.48, followed by Saga at 38.15. A total of 44 prefectures have exceeded the alert threshold of 10 cases.

Professor Atsuro Hamada of Tokyo Medical University (Travel Medicine) pointed out that while the spread of COVID-19 appears to be declining, there is still a possibility of resurgence. He also analyzed that the influenza outbreak may continue until it warms up in March.

Hamada emphasized the importance of wearing masks, hand washing, and ventilation in crowded places, and urged people to take preventive measures such as self-isolation at home if feeling unwell.

Japan 10th COVID Wave: COVID-19 Hospitalizations Remain High

(source:internet, reference only)

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