Surge in COVID cases overshadows family visits during summer vacation in Japan

25-Jul-2022 Intellasia | Mainichi | 8:50 AM Print This Post

A new wave of COVID-19 cases has cast a dark shadow over Japan’s summer vacation season, as Tokyo-area residents face the tough decision of whether to see loved ones at the risk of infection or stay put for the third year under the pandemic.

“Infections are increasing so quickly, it’s terrifying,” said a 74-year-old resident of Tokyo’s Itabashi Ward who visited the Self-Defense Forces’ coronavirus vaccination centre in Chiyoda Ward on July 21 to receive her fourth vaccine shot. The woman usually goes on trips with her 45-year-old son, who works in health care in Osaka Prefecture, his wife, and two grandchildren who are grade schoolers when they come visit her during the summer holidays. This year, however, the son has been busy handling COVID-19 cases, and the woman said he is unlikely to be able to visit her in Tokyo.

“As there are not many severe cases, people may not be on alert, but I’d like each and every person to be careful about preventing infection,” she said.

A 74-year-old resident of Katsushika Ward, who said he recently had his fourth inoculation, commented, “It’s hard to go on a trip to somewhere far when considering I might be told by people around me that they were ‘infected by a person from Tokyo.’” Though he has the custom of visiting his wife’s family in the Ishikawa Prefectural capital of Kanazawa every summer, he has been unable to go there for the past three years. He murmured, “I thought I could finally go after the sixth wave of infections ended, but it might be impossible this year too.”

Meanwhile, others have decided to use the opportunity to visit family. A 38-year-old woman from the capital’s Adachi Ward who reserved seats on a bullet train heading to Nagoya in central Japan was at JR Tokyo Station with her 9-year-old son. She said, “We’d be unable to do anything if we kept changing plans every time infections surged.” Her parents had asked her to avoid visiting them during the pandemic up until last year, but apparently agreed to the visit this year after they received their fourth shot. “I’d like to travel while taking precautions against infection,” she said.

A 27-year-old office worker from Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, was heading to JR Tokyo Station while carrying a Boston bag. He plans to stay at his parents’ home in Kobe, and meet his friends in west Japan. He emphasized, “As there are no travel restrictions, I think if a person gets infected, that’s their responsibility. This summer, I’d like to enjoy the holiday as normally as possible, while taking preventative measures against infection.” He added, “I think it’s OK to quit making a big fuss just by looking at the infection figures.”

Ryuta Fujii, a 19-year-old first-year university student who passed by Tokyo Dome City, which was bustling with students and families, said he will return to his hometown of Kumamoto Prefecture during summer vacation. “I’ll go back since I want to see my grandpa and grandma as much as possible while they’re doing well. I’m doing my best to take anti-infection measures,” he said.

A 33-year-old woman from Edogawa Ward, who was with her 6-year-old daughter, said she was not sure whether she would visit family. She said, “If possible, I’d like my family members to see my child, but I also think that I won’t be able to go if infections rise and travel restrictions are put in place. I’d like to keep tabs on the news.”


Category: Japan

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