Covid-19 fatalities in Japan are at their lowest level in 16 months, as instances drop

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Covid-19 kills fewer than one person every day in the world’s oldest country. During the last week, the six confirmed deaths in Japan are the lowest since July 2020, just before the second wave of pandemic mortality. It’s an even more astounding result than other industrialised countries like Germany or the United States: no Group of 7 countries has had as few deaths since the epidemic began in earnest.
This downturn coincides with a drop in reported cases, which have dropped from more than 25,000 per day in August to less than 200 per day over the previous three weeks. The decrease in cases and fatalities is more significant when you realise that Japan’s population is considerably greater than any G-7 countries save the United States. It is also much older, which increases the risk of mortality from Covid-19.
It’s unknown why the flood of illnesses and fatalities that hit Japan in late summer and early autumn has subsided so quickly. At least part of the decline may be attributed to a widespread vaccination effort, with more than 77 per cent of the country’s 126 million citizens fully immunised as of Monday. Vaccination rates among the vulnerable elderly are much higher, with 92% of individuals aged 65 and up receiving two injections.
On the other hand, many other industrialised countries have seen an increase in illnesses and fatalities as a result of similar thorough vaccination programmes. Face masks are virtually universally worn in public, despite the lack of a mask mandate. Mask wearing and limiting trips to potentially populated places have been persistent throughout the waves of illness, with people of Japan being cautious even when instances have subsided.

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