Japan's new Covid-19 cases hit 17-month low amid reopening

Japan has a relatively good record on surviving the pandemic, with 14.5 deaths per 100,000 people. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (BLOOMBERG) - Japan reported 79 new cases of Covid-19 on Monday (Nov 15), the lowest figure in nearly 1½ years, as the country's robust vaccination rate is quelling infections even in the midst of reopening the world's third-largest economy. The country reported one death on Monday.

Tokyo, its capital and most populous city, had just seven new cases, according to local officials. The total number of new cases countrywide is the lowest since June 23 last year, when the first wave of Covid-19 was brought to heel.

The number of daily cases in Japan has plunged from a peak of about 25,000 during the summer, while vaccinations have surged so much that it is now one of the most immunised developed countries in the world.

More than 75 per cent of its 126 million people are fully vaccinated, with over 78 per cent of the population getting at least one shot, according to Bloomberg's vaccine tracker.

The rising levels of protection allowed the government to start lifting restrictions on bars, restaurants and entertainment venues in October for areas that make up 75 per cent of the economy.

It is now considered a low-risk destination for American travellers after it was moved on Monday to the lowest rung of the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention's Covid-19 travel advisory level.

The nation, one of the world's oldest, has a relatively good record on surviving the pandemic, with 14.5 deaths per 100,000 people. That compares with about 230 deaths per 100,000 people in the US, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University's Coronavirus Resource Centre. Japan reported no deaths on Nov 7, the first time in 15 months.

As cases come down, the nation is also changing the way it categorises the outbreak to focus on how burdened the healthcare system is.

It has also eased travel restrictions and shortened the quarantine period to three days, from 10, for business travellers, Japanese nationals and foreign residents returning from abroad who are vaccinated with shots approved by local regulators.

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