Japan case average at yearly low

The weekly average number of new coronavirus cases in Japan remains at a low for the year, but numbers of cases in Tokyo and elsewhere have stopped falling.

NHK examined changes in weekly averages based on numbers of new cases released by the governments of all 47 prefectures.

New case counts began to decline across the country in late August. The national weekly average was down from the previous seven days for the 11th straight week on Thursday.

The average daily count stands at about 187, the lowest this year.

Numbers of new infections continue to fall in 31 prefectures. The tallies in Tokyo and some other prefectures remain low, but have stopped falling.

In Tokyo, the 7-day average declined for 11 straight weeks until November 4. But on Thursday, the figure was up 33 percent from a week earlier, making the daily average count about 26.

Toho University Professor Tateda Kazuhiro, who's on the government's expert panel on the pandemic, said downward trends continue nationwide while Tokyo has seen its first increase in about two and half months.

He said it's important to keep infection numbers low, and warned of a possible resurgence toward the year-end and New Year holidays.

Tateda cited such factors as lower temperatures, Christmas and other events for which many people gather, adding that the effects of vaccines weaken six to eight months after inoculations.

Tateda said declines in antibodies will become conspicuous among elderly people from early next year. Such people received jabs earlier than younger generations. Tateda said even vaccinated younger people could get the virus in several months.

He said the situation could change if oral medicine rolls out, but stressed the importance of promoting third inoculations, citing their proven efficacy.