The head of a Japanese government coronavirus advisory group has said that the next virus restriction measures taken under the quasi-state of emergency must be tailored to the characteristics of the Omicron variant.
Omi Shigeru was speaking to reporters on Wednesday after the panel endorsed the government’s declaration of a near state of emergency for 13 more prefectures.
He said efforts to limit the number of people in social gatherings, instead of those to restrict the overall flow of people, will be key to effectively preventing further outbreaks.
He said Omicron’s pathways of infection analyzes showed that infections mainly occurred when large numbers of people gathered, dined and talked loudly in poorly ventilated places. He noted that antivirus measures should focus on these high-risk situations.
He added that people should avoid these risks not only in food establishments, but also at home or in workplaces.
He also said restaurants can stay open if gatherings are limited to around four people, each speaking quietly wearing masks.
Omi referred to a program to use evidence of vaccination or negative test results to ease virus restrictions, which the government plans to suspend.
He said the effectiveness of vaccines in preventing infections appears to be declining amid current Omicron outbreaks, new test results have become more important than proof of vaccination.
Omi said that before the program resumes, the effectiveness of vaccines must be ensured through booster shots and other means.