Japan’s local Governors urge govt to present vaccine plan

People walk at the sightseeing spot in Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan.

Tokyo, (Asian independent)┬áThe Governors of Japan’s prefectures have urged the central government to roll out its Covid-19 vaccine plan quickly as there is very little information on the country’s inoculation drive against the virus.

The National Governors’ Association held an online meeting on Saturday calling on the government to provide information on its vaccine rollout preparations as soon as possible, so that the local governments can start making detailed plans, reports Xinhua news agency.

The central government has made provisions for the country to receive a total of 310 million doses from the vaccine makers of AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna.

The total number of doses is expected to be enough to inoculate 157 million people, more than Japan’s current population of about 126 million.

However, a recent poll by Kyodo News showed that many local governments have difficulties in making plans for staffing and vaccination sites due to lack of information from the central government.

“We can’t secure vaccination sites or doctors without knowing exactly when and how long we need them,” an official of the Sapporo city government was quoted as saying.

“It’s like we are being rushed to make preparations with our hands tied,” said a mayor from the Tokyo metropolitan area.

Meanwhile, Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura said that the current state of emergency over the pandemic should be lifted in phases in areas where it is confirmed to be effective to a certain degree.

He also called on the central government to present its criteria for applying the measures to contain the spread of the virus outlined in the revised special measures law.

The association decided to set up a liaison group to improve communication with the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare on vaccination, which is expected to begin with healthcare workers in mid-February.

The central government has said vaccinations for those aged 65 and over would begin in late March.

However, Taro Kono, administrative reform minister who was appointed to lead the vaccination efforts, said recently that the inoculation drive would not start before April.

According to the latest figures from the Health Ministry, the confirmed Covid-19 cases in Japan has increased to 403,938,

The death toll currently stands at 6,389.

The Ministry also said there are currently 815 patients considered severely ill with ventilators or in intensive care units.

In Tokyo, the epicentre of the pandemic in Japan, 639 new cases were reported on Saturday, staying below 1,000 for the ninth consecutive day, with the cumulative total reaching 103,416, the highest among the country’s 47 prefectures.