The Tokyo 2020 Paralympics are under way and how great was it to see Australia at the top of the leader board after competition on Day one and see Paige Greco being awarded the very first medal of the games!

Unfortunately, on the COVID-19 front, things have taken another turn for the worse with daily cases over 20,000 for more than a week as the Delta strain becomes the dominant strain in Japan.  The State of Emergency (SOE) currently includes 13 prefectures from Hokkaido to Okinawa, with Tokyo and the Kanto region still seeing the most number of cases each day. From August 27th, that number of SOE prefectures will expand to 21 and a further 12 prefectures will be under restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID.  This means 70% of the country is now subject to restrictions which will continue until September 12, 2022.

On the vaccination front, government data shows 53.6% of the population has now had one shot and 42.6% are fully vaccinated.  On August 25, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare notified all local governments that pregnant women should be given priority to get vaccinated as data now shows pregnant women are at risk of serious illness or giving birth prematurely if they contract COVID. Unfortunately, this came too late for a COVID-positive woman in her 30s from Chiba who went into premature labour at home last week and her newborn died before being able to receive medical attention. Stress on medical facilities across the country is being felt as hospitals reach capacity, and more and more COVID-positive patients are having to stay home and deal with the symptoms by themselves. Each day the papers cover stories of equally sad stories of people calling ambulances but unable to find a hospital that can take them.

In an effort to relieve the suffering of those dealing with COVID at home, the government has decided to make adjustments to the rules for the “antibody cocktail therapy” which is normally only used for hospitalized patients to treat COVID.  Now, moves are being made to move allow the administration of the drug on a one-day basis as an outpatient treatment, provided that the medical institution is equipped with inpatient facilities that can respond to changes in the patient’s condition after administration.

Australians are still not permitted to enter Japan unless they obtain a special exemption or are registered as permanent residents.

For further information on the current state of entry to Japan, please see the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan’s website.