September 21, 2020

Coronavirus lockdown: Lessons from Hokkaido’s second wave of infections

It was once seen as something of a success story – a city that worked to contain, trace and isolate the virus – leading to a huge drop in numbers. But Hokkaido is in the spotlight again as it struggles to deal with a second wave of infections.

In late February, Hokkaido became the first place in Japan to declare a state of emergency due to Covid-19.

Schools were closed, large-scale gatherings cancelled and people “encouraged” to stay at home. The local government pursued the virus with determination – aggressively tracing and isolating anyone who’d had contact with victims.

The policy worked and by mid-March the number of new cases had fallen back to one or two a day. On 19 March the state of emergency was lifted, and at the beginning of April, schools re-opened.

But now, just 26 days after the state of emergency was lifted, a new one has had to be imposed.

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