Infections in Japan continue to fall

The number of coronavirus infections in Japan continues to fall.

Health authorities say the number of new infections across the country in the week up to Tuesday was just 60 percent of the figure from the previous week.

The health ministry held a meeting on Wednesday to give updates on the situation. Officials said that the number of new cases has been trending down in almost all regions, and that the government would remain vigilant.

Health Minister Goto Shigeyuki said, "I think it's important to assume a range of possible scenarios and take thorough steps to ensure safety as the spread of the virus subsides."

Amid the falling cases, the government is focusing on shoring up the availability of vaccines and treatments.

Prime Minister Kishida Fumio told the Diet that the government will intensively support the development of home-grown vaccines and medications.

Kishida said, "To deal with powerful mutations and new infectious diseases, we will offer intensive support for research and development on an industry-government-academia basis. We'll offer support for domestically developed vaccines. We'll also work to improve the clinical trial environment and set up production bases, and speed up the approval process for COVID-related products."

Kishida added that the government aims to finish inoculations for all those who want them by early November.

Meanwhile, some areas are moving to resume economic activities.

In the western prefecture of Hyogo, managers of hotels and traditional inns met with the governor. They called on residents to take advantage of a campaign to support the local tourism industry.

Hyogo prefecture is set to start the promotion on Thursday. It offers subsidies to local tourists who have received two doses of the vaccine.