TOKYO (AP) – The daily figure for confirmed COVID-19 cases in Japan hit a record for the fourth day at 2,508, the health ministry said Sunday.
Japan has so far had fewer than 2,000 coronavirus-related deaths and has avoided paying hard-hit nations. But fear is growing over yet another wave. A stream of criticism from opposition lawmakers and the public has slammed the government for being too slow in stopping its “GoTo” tourism campaign, which encouraged travel and eateries with discounts.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga scrapped the campaign on Saturday, but only after many people had already booked travel for a three-day Thanksgiving weekend in Japan.
Airports and restaurants are packed. Some say the government should have offered to pay for cancellations or intensified PCR testing instead if the goal is to keep the economy going with a pandemic. Tutorials circulate online about the right way to eat and drink in restaurants while wearing masks.
In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:
– South Australia and Victoria states eased COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday as Australia enters the summer in a better position to fight the virus. Victoria, who was hardest hit, has gone 23 days without a new infection. In response, Prime Minister Daniel Andrews announced a number of changes to restrictions. Mask wearing outdoors, which until now has been mandatory, is no longer required where social distance is possible. Masks must still be worn indoors and worn at all times. Home gathering of up to 15 people is allowed, and up to 50 people can gather outdoors. Up to 150 people are allowed for weddings, funerals or indoor religious services. Residents of South Australia came out of a nationwide lockdown at midnight Saturday and are now able to visit bars and restaurants in groups of up to 10 and host gatherings of up to 50 people with social distance. Fitness centers and beauty salons can be opened, and students return to schools from Monday. The border between Victoria and New South Wales states, closed at the height of the Victoria eruption three months ago, reopens on Sunday. New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said, “We will never see this ever again. We hope this is the last time this border is closed in our lifetime. ”
Authorities are conducting mass testing and school closures after China reported three new domestic cases in the last 24 hours – two in northern Inner Mongolia province and one in Shanghai. The city of Manzhouli in Inner Mongolia begins testing all its residents for COVID-19 on Sunday, a day after the two cases were discovered. The city has suspended classes and closed public venues, asking residents not to gather for dinner banquets. Local authorities in Shanghai found another case on Saturday after testing 15,416 people following recent locally transmitted cases. The city does not close its schools, but has locked specific facilities such as a hospital. It also tests all residents of Pudong New Area District. China is already conducting mass tests for up to 3 million people in the northern city of Tianjin after five cases were found there earlier in the week. The total number of confirmed cases in China is 86,431.
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