No new COVID-19 case in Fukushima on Oct. 8, first in 230 days

No one tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Fukushima Prefecture on Oct. 8, the local government announced on Oct. 9. It was the first time in 230 days since the daily tally was published on Feb. 21 that no new COVID-19 cases were logged in Fukushima in a single day. Prefectural officials attributed the abatement of the epidemic to the spread of vaccinations and the enforcement of exhaustive measures to stave off the coronavirus. Still concerned over a fresh wave of new infections that could be triggered by an increased flow of people, however, the local government is urging prefectural residents to continue the basic anti-COVID-19 measures taken so far. It is set to strengthen the prefecture's healthcare system in preparation for a possible "sixth wave" of the pandemic. The chart shows the number of new daily infection cases and the cumulative total of COVID-19 patients in Fukushima Prefecture. The fifth wave was the largest to date in the aftermath of the widespread "Delta variant" of the coronavirus and the frequent outbreak of clusters. The number of local people testing positive hit a record daily high of 230 on Aug. 12 on an announcement basis, registering three-digit figures since then. But the number began to fall in September, down to single-digits for 15 straight days since the Sept. 24 announcement. Seven indicators used to judge the status of infections have improved as well. The number of new COVID-19 cases in the latest reporting week (Oct. 2-8) was 0.98 per population of 100,000, compared with 35.48 two months before and 14.79 a month ago. As of Oct. 8, 3.8% of hospital beds set aside for coronavirus patients were occupied, down sharply from 79.2% two months earlier and 40.3% a month ago. Behind the fall in new infections are slowdowns in human flows caused by priority measures to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus and the prefecture's own anti-virus steps applied in a concentrated manner as well as progress in vaccinations and continuation of individual precautionary measures among prefectural residents. "We have been able to achieve zero new cases thanks to cooperation by each and every local resident," said an official of the prefectural government’s task force battling the epidemic. But the official cautioned that the movement of people would increase as the autumn tourist season arrives and restrictions on human behavior are eased, resulting in another wave of infections. He urged local people to take thorough basic anti-virus measures without dropping their guard. As of Oct. 8, the cumulative number of COVID-19 patients in the prefecture remained unchanged from the previous day at 9,464.  Healthcare system to be revamped The prefectural government is poised to restructure the healthcare system in anticipation of a sixth wave of infections exceeding the fifth-wave level. Specifically, it is considering further increasing the number of hospital beds for COVID-19 patients, as well as strengthening the current system of monitoring people recuperating at designated lodging facilities or at home after testing positive for the disease and enhancing measures to prevent these people from getting into worse shape. These and other measures were expected to be discussed at a meeting of the prefecture's headquarters for COVID-19 healthcare coordination set for this week. (Translated by Kyodo News)