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Japan Warns of New COVID-19 Surge as New Zealand Announces New Measures

Japan Warns of New COVID-19 Surge, Tokyo Raises Alert Level

Japan warned on Thursday (July 14) that a new wave of COVID-19 appeared to be spreading rapidly and urged people to take special care ahead of an approaching long weekend and school summer vacations.

Tokyo’s 16,878 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday (July 13) and 16,662 on Thursday were the highest since February, while the nationwide tally rose above 90,000 infections—levels unseen since early 2022.

In his first news conference since former premier Shinzo Abe was assissinated and after the ruling coalition won an election on Sunday (July 10), Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the highest level of caution was needed.

“The coronavirus is spreading throughout the nation and through all age groups,” he warned, urging people to get their COVID-19 booster injections—especially those in their 20s and 30s, whose vaccination rate is lagging.

“With summer vacations coming up, interaction between all generations will be increasing.”

New Zealand Announces New COVID Measures as BA.5 Variant Takes Over

Jacinda Ardern’s government has announced new measures that it hopes will ease the burden on hospitals struggling against another wave of COVID-19 and the seasonal flu, but has so far resisted shifting up to “code red” restrictions from “orange light.”

Health authorities are increasing the availability of masks and rapid antigen tests for members of the public amid concerns that the number of SARS-CoV-2 infections in the community is double the official figure.

More people will also be able to access three antiviral treatments for treating early COVID-19 amid concerns BA.5 could “significantly” increase case numbers and hospitalizations in the coming weeks.

Under New Zealand’s current “orange light” restrictions, people are already required to wear masks in public indoor settings, such as public transport, shops and libraries.

On Thursday (July 14), COVID-19 Minister Ayesha Verrall and the outgoing Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said that in the past 24 hours there were 11,382 COVID-19 cases, 765 hospitalizations and 23 new deaths.

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