July 22, 2020

The second Covid-wave has arrived, but with hardly any deaths in Japan

The number of new cases of COVID-19 and the number of deaths in Japan are obviously less compared to that in the United States and Europe. The reasoning behind this is still unclear. However, since the beginning of this pandemic, it has been threatening people’s lives all throughout Japan as well. The Japanese government has been trying to control the pandemic by introducing border controls, implementing a state of emergency order and asking for business closures. In Japan, when the diagnosed cases decreased in late May, the government decided to lift the state of emergency order, while gradually opening up its economic activities.

However, as economic activities became somewhat back to normal, the number of new cases has been gradually increasing. The number of positive cases is almost reaching its peak to that in April. Almost half of the new cases are from Tokyo. In Tokyo, the number of new cases peaked in April, while the number of patients with serious symptoms peaked in May. The question is, “Is the current situation in Tokyo as bad as it was before?” The answer is, no. As you can see from the chart, the number of patients with serious symptoms are significantly less than those in May. This fact implies that the hospitals are not overwhelmed under the current situations. One major reason could be the age component differentiating compared to that in April and in May. In July, only 8% of the newly infected patients in Tokyo were above 60 years old, whereas in April, it was 28% and in May, 38%. As is broadly stated, the higher the age of the patient, the higher the likelihood of experiencing serious symptoms. Therefore, it is key to minimize the exposure of the virus to the elderly population.

Conclusion

Although the current situation seems to not be overwhelming the hospitals, the number of new cases has been spreading nationwide once again. The virus began to spread not only in the metropolitan areas such as Tokyo and Osaka, but also to the neighboring prefectures as well as other prefectures which have large cities. The Japanese government downsized its travel support campaign and suspended to ease the restrictions regarding large gathering events due to the number of new cases surging. Currently, the Japanese government is facing very tough policy targets. The government has to manage the pandemic while simultaneously keeping the economy alive. If the government does not take more of a proactive action, the situation could become worse in the upcoming months.

Report written by:

Guest Economist 

Reiko Chiyoya

Email: reiko.chiyoya@japanmacroadvisors.com