Japan announced relaxation on flights from Hong Kong

Japan expanded a state of emergency to cover the southern island of Okinawa on Friday, just because it approved two more coronavirus vaccines to speed up its lagging inoculation campaign.

The newly approved vaccines, from Moderna Inc (MRNA.O) and AstraZeneca PLC (AZN.L), will join the one co-developed by Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) and BioNTech SE (22UAy.DE) in a vaccination drive that began in mid-February.

However AstraZeneca’s vaccine would not be used for the time being, the company mentioned. Earlier media reports mentioned the government would maintain off on their use due to concerns over blood clots and bleeding in some individuals.

“We’re aware that our vaccine is not going to be used right away,” a spokeswoman at AstraZeneca mentioned. Japan has arranged to buy 120 million doses of the British-Swedish drugmaker’s vaccine.

Japan has so far vaccinated just 4.1% of its population, according to Reuters’ global tracker, the slowest rate among the world’s larger, rich nations.

In contrast to some other Group of Seven (G7) nations that are beginning to end pandemic-busting lockdown measures, a lot of Japan stays under emergency curbs amid the fourth wave of infections.

On Friday, the government added Okinawa to its list of 9 prefectures under the strictest emergency measures. They include Tokyo, where the Olympic Games are due to start in about two months.

Fears that the Olympics would turn into a super-spreader event have continued, protecting the majority of the public opposed to holding the Games this yr. A Reuters corporate survey published on Friday showed nearly 70% of Japanese firms also want the Games either canceled or postponed.

The state of emergency for Okinawa would run for about a month from Sunday by June 20, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga mentioned, beyond the May 31 end of the other nine.

The move marks the third consecutive week that Japan has expanded the state of emergency.

Japan has so far recorded about 695,000 novel coronavirus infections and 12,000 COVID-19 deaths – much fewer than many nations – but its medical system is increasingly strained by a spike in more infectious variants of the virus.

With the Olympics beginning on July 23, Tokyo is under particular pressure to bring infections and strain on the medical system down from the direst “Stage 4” level and emerge from a state of emergency as scheduled this month.

After a 30-minute meeting with Suga on Friday, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike mentioned she requested a sufficient provision of vaccines for the capital as it begins mass vaccinations next week, and mentioned the 2 shared their commitment to working towards a “secure and safe” Olympics this summer.

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