The Japanese government has unveiled its latest set of anti-coronavirus measures, as the Omicron variant continues to spread. The plan includes moving up the vaccine schedule to give people their third shots earlier.
The government wants to first give booster shots to about 31 million people. These include doctors and nurses, care home residents and workers as well as elderly citizens.
It also plans to make boosters available to others earlier than planned after additional doses of the Moderna vaccine were secured. They will be available to the general public starting in March.
Officials say the Self-Defense Forces will set up large-scale venues to help local municipalities with the rollout.
Prime Minister Kishida Fumio says, “We will be fully prepared and not overly afraid. We want to work with all citizens to overcome this situation”.
Cases numbers have been spiking in the southern prefecture of Okinawa. A total of 503 medical personnel were unable to work as of Tuesday, so the prefecture asked the Self-Defense Forces to dispatch emergency medical assistance.
Ten SDF nurses were sent to two hospitals in Okinawa for about week, starting Tuesday. The chief of the team, Colonel Ikeda Ken of the Ground Self-Defense Force says, “Our enemy is the Omicron variant. We will prevent our personnel from becoming infected. If that happened, we would not be able to carry out our duties”.
Tokyo reported 962 new cases on Tuesday. That was the highest count among prefectures across Japan.
The daily total was more than six times the figure of a week before.
A survey by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government shows the Omicron variant was suspected in about 80 percent of the samples taken in the week through Monday.