Japan tightens virus measures ahead of Olympics


Japan will start to tighten measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as the country prepares for the long-delayed upcoming Tokyo Olympics, The Associated Press reported.

The country on Monday expanded its vaccination drive to include the elderly after having first started with health care workers. Shots will be offered in 120 locations around the country, the AP reports.

Vaccinations have lagged in Japan due to the low supply of the Pfizer vaccine, which is the only one approved in the country.

The country is struggling to combat the current spread of a more contagious variant of the virus as less than 1 percent of the country has been vaccinated.

Just over 1 million people in Japan have received the first of two vaccine doses.

The tougher COVID-19 rules come after a three-week nonbinding state of emergency in the country’s capital, Tokyo, ended.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike will mandate shorter hours for bars and restaurants and will punish those who don’t comply with the measures while compensating those who do. The measures will remain until May 11.

Koike has asked residents to avoid nonessential trips and practice social distancing and said that health officials will be patrolling bars and restaurants to ensure compliance, the AP reports. 

“We are still unarmed as we fight against the resurgence of the infections,” Koike said. “Please follow the guidelines.”

Japan has had fewer than 500,00 COVID-19 cases with 9,400 deaths since the pandemic began, better numbers than the United States and many countries in Europe, but the country has recently seen an uptick in cases with 2,762 reported cases on Sunday.

Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines are still waiting for approval for use and the country has ordered 344 million doses of vaccines for use this year, enough for the entire population.

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