Asia-Pacific region is facing a coronavirus surge
Media reports indicate covid situation in Asia-Pacific with alarming statistical evidence. The Asia-Pacific region is facing a coronavirus surge, according to Reuters and The Guardian. This week were at their highest since February while Japan and New Zealand will make masks and rapid tests free as cases increase.
Japan warned on Thursday that a new wave of COVID infections 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 cases on Wednesday were the highest since February, while the nationwide tally rose above 90,000, in a recent surge of COVID-19 infections to levels unseen since early this year. The Japanese capital marked 16,662 new cases on Thursday.
In his first news conference since former premier Shinzo Abe was killed and after the ruling coalition won an election on Sunday, 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 said, urging people to make sure they got their booster shots - especially those in their 20s and 30s, whose vaccination rate is lagging.
New Zealand will make medical masks and rapid antigen tests free to access, the government has announced, as the country fights a growing wave of Omicron infections.
The slate of new measures announced today include widening access to antiviral drugs to anyone over 75, making free medical masks available, and providing packs of free rapid antigen tests (RATs) even if people are not experiencing symptoms.
Previously, people had to have been exposed or symptomatic to be eligible for the tests. The expansion of access to antivirals means about 10% of the population will be eligible, compared to 2% previously. The free mask measures will cover N-95 or P2 masks for anyone considered clinically vulnerable, and standard medical masks for others.
Covid response minister Ayesha Verrall said these were “the most effective measures we have. They are simple, but if we all do them, we can lessen our illness burden and the burden on our health system.”