Japan, Tokyo(DT), 08 December : Japan recorded its highest-ever number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care, a situation Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga acknowledged was becoming “extremely alarming” as hospitals and medical staff faced being overwhelmed. Winter was always expected to bring a spike in case, as cold weather sends people indoors to poorly ventilated spaces — conditions likely to make coronavirus spread more easily. Cases could also be harder to track and trace as symptoms are similar to those of winter respiratory bugs, while governments may find it harder to enact lockdown measures or other restrictions on already quarantine-fatigued populations. Japanese regulations have called for greater ventilation, but this is a hard ask in parts of the country that experience freezing temperatures throughout winter, a situation shared by South Korea. Asahikawa, in Japan’s northern Hokkaido prefecture, has seen a major spike in cases in recent days — the city also holds the record for the country’s coldest-ever temperature, of minus 41 degrees Celsius (minus 41.8 degrees Fahrenheit) in 1902, and sees average temperatures of minus 5 degrees Celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit) to minus 10 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit) for much of winter.
Along with tighter restrictions, both east Asian countries have deployed their respective militaries to assist medical staff and help with contact tracing. In Japan, nurses from the Self-Defense Forces will assist local hospitals in Osaka and Hokkaido prefectures, as the country reported 1,518 new cases Monday — bringing its total to 164,641, including more than 2,395 deaths.