Japanese government urges companies to target 70% telecommuting as COVID cases rise
Japan’s economy minister said on Monday [July 27] the government would urge companies to target 70% telework and strengthen other social distancing measures amid an increase in coronavirus cases among workers, some infected while socializing after work.
Although Japan has largely avoided the massive infections that have killed tens of thousands of people overseas, a record increase in the number of cases over the past week in Tokyo and other major urban areas has raised fears. experts that the country does not face a second wave.
Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said in a video meeting with Japanese governors on Monday that business leaders will be urged to step up anti-virus measures such as encouraging the level of teleworking achieved during the state. emergency in Japan this year, when it reached 70% to 80%. It has since fallen to around 30%, he added.
He also called on businesses to encourage staggered work shifts and avoid large gatherings after work for drinks or a meal.
Tokyo last week reported a daily record 366 cases last week, with an increase also in Osaka. The southern city of Fukuoka reported a record 90 cases on Sunday.
Despite the increase in cases, the government has no plans to call another state of emergency, Cabinet Secretary-General Yoshihide Suga told a press conference.
“The situation compared to April is very different,” he said, citing the small number of severe cases as well as fewer cases among the elderly.
On Monday, 131 new cases were confirmed in the capital, Gov. Yuriko Koike said, but noted that tests had fallen to around 20% of normal over the extended weekend. She added that severe cases increased from one, to 19.
Concern has grown about clusters, particularly those involving guest and hostess bars or related to socializing after work, as well as an increase in cases among people in their 40s and 50s. .
The telework rate has lagged in Japan due to a paper-based culture and technology shortcomings, experts say.
The central government remains committed to restarting economic activity and last week launched a domestic travel campaign in the face of widespread criticism.
More than 30,000 people in Japan have been infected and nearly 1,000 have died.
(Reporting by Elaine Lies, Chris Gallagher and Chang-ran Kim; editing by Gerry Doyle)
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