Japan's COVID-19 death toll tops 10,000

Kyodo News

Posted at Apr 26 2021 10:47 PM

The death toll from the novel coronavirus in Japan topped 10,000 on Monday, as the country battles a fourth wave of infections driven by more contagious variants, a Kyodo News tally showed.

The resurgence has forced Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to declare a third state of emergency from Sunday to May 11 in Tokyo and the western Japan prefectures of Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo.

The nationwide death toll hit 8,000 on March 2 before rising above 9,000 in just over three weeks on March 26.

The number of deaths per day, which had been on a downward trend from February to March, began to reverse in April following the complete lifting of the second state of emergency, with more and more days topping 50 deaths recently.

Health ministry data as of last Wednesday showed that the mortality rate for COVID-19 increases with age, with 13.9 percent of those in their 80s and over dying, followed by 5.2 percent of those in their 70s, and 1.5 percent of those in their 60s.

Mortality rates also tend to be higher for men at 19 percent for those in their 80s and older, compared to 10.9 percent for women in the same age group.

Japan's vaccination rollout, which has been criticized as sluggish, only began for those 65 and over earlier this month, and is thus unlikely to lead to an immediate improvement in deaths.

But the government on Monday decided to open from late May a large-scale COVID-19 vaccination center in Tokyo capable of administering shots to 10,000 people per day, sources close to the matter said.

The center, which is expected to be operational for three months and mainly targets the elderly, aims to vaccinate a total of 900,000 people -- around 10 percent of the elderly population living in the capital and the three surrounding prefectures of Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa.

The government also plans to open similar centers in Osaka Prefecture.

The latest emergency, covering roughly a quarter of Japan's population of 126 million and about a third of its economy, comes with less than three months to go until the Tokyo Olympics begin.

Tokyo on Monday reported 425 additional cases of coronavirus infections, down from 635 the previous day. On Saturday, it reported 876 cases, the highest number since its second COVID-19 emergency was lifted in late March.