Japan experiencing higher second wave of COVID-19 cases due to opening of economy too soon, says GlobalData

Japan is now experiencing a second wave that is much larger than the first after having COVID-19 under control for over a month. The country kept economic considerations a priority in its response to COVID-19 and fully re-opened by June 2020, a month after the first wave, which is now thought to have been too soon. This is a warning to other countries that they must not become complacent and resurgence of the pandemic is probable if the restrictive measures are relaxed too soon, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Katie Wrenn, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData, comments: “Japan may have to re-think its strategy for controlling COVID-19 if it does not wish to experience a further resurgence in the cases. Though the death rate in Japan still remains low and hospitals are not overwhelmed, if waves continue to increase in size, this could be detrimental.”

GlobalData epidemiologists have shown the new daily confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Japan from 20 March to 12 August 2020. In June, COVID-19 daily cases started to rise again, and the second wave of infection began.

Wrenn continues: “The overall new cases seen in the second wave so far have been over double that seen in the first wave, with approximately 32,000 and 15,000 new cases reported, respectively. This rise in daily cases seen in the second wave indicates that measures put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19 were not as effective as first thought.”

Japan was initially considered to have one of the most successful responses to COVID-19 worldwide. The country used a cluster-based approach, which identifies common sources of infection, such as clubs and bars, via retrospective contact tracing. This approach, combined with high hygiene standards and government compliance, was thought to have kept the virus under control in Japan.

Wrenn concludes: “However, the cluster-based approach does not pick up individual cases, and so missed the spread through the community. With the recent surge of new cases in Japan, largely concentrated in Tokyo, community spread is likely to have occurred.”

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