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What’s Happening Now in Fukuoka & Japan December 2021

01/01/2022

Japan launches COVID-19 vaccine certificate app – Nationwide

The Japanese government launched a smartphone app that allows people to display proof of vaccination that can be used for multiple purposes, including immigration procedures. The app, called the COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate Application and available for both iPhone and Android smartphones, displays information such as the number of doses a user has received, the dates of inoculation and the vaccine manufacturer, according to the Digital Agency.

Municipal governments have been issuing vaccine certificates in paper form since the summer, but the app makes it easier for people to obtain certification through the My Number national identification system so long as they have been issued a My Number card, an agency official said.

While all citizens and residents of Japan are issued 12-digit ID numbers, cards need to be applied for separately. By scanning their My Number cards with a smartphone, people can pull up information on the app regarding their inoculation status from the Vaccination Record System, a cloud system created by the government and used by municipalities to manage data on residents’ inoculation status. For use in international travel, users need to additionally input passport data. Instructions on the app are provided only in Japanese language.

In addition to using the digital certificates for quarantine inspections in destination countries, the agency is also considering domestic use in a program designed to loosen COVID-related restrictions on the vaccinated. The app is “expected to be used for lowering infection risks in daily lives as well as economic and social activities,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a press conference.

The government in November outlined a “vaccine and test package” aimed at easing restrictions for people with proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 tests even when the country is under a virus state of emergency. Under the plan, venues of large-scale events will be able to accommodate a full crowd, while there will be no limits to the number of people at restaurants even under an emergency so long as people have either been vaccinated or tested negative for COVID.

People who live in municipalities that do not give consent to the use of data in the VRS system are not eligible for the digital certificate service. The list of municipalities whose residents are eligible for the service is available on the Digital Agency website. However, the agency has warned that some registered vaccination data may be incorrect and called on users to seek any necessary corrections at their municipalities. About 78 percent of the Japanese population has received at least two doses of COVID-19 vaccines. The government began administering booster shots to health care workers earlier this month amid increasing concern about the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

1st community spread of Omicron virus variant in Tokyo confirmed – Tokyo

The first case of community transmission of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus has been reported in Tokyo, the metropolitan government said, making the capital the latest area to confirm the spread of the highly contagious strain. A male doctor in his 50s, who works at a clinic in the capital and has no history of recent travel overseas, was confirmed to be infected with the variant through an unknown route, it said.

The case in Tokyo follows those reported in the western prefectures of Osaka and Kyoto, where new cases of the variant were also confirmed amid increasing concerns over a possible resurgence of infections. The metropolitan government has classified five people as close contacts of the doctor. The five — two family members and three workers at his clinic — have all tested negative for the virus, it said. The Tokyo government also confirmed three other cases of the variant, apart from the doctor. All three people had a history of overseas travel.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike told a press conference that Tokyo will conduct free COVID-19 tests. It plans to conduct 30,000 tests per day for those wishing to be tested at 180 locations in the capital. According to Koike, the doctor had worn a face mask and face guard at work, and his patients had not come into close contact with him. The metropolitan government is still calling for some 100 workers at the clinic and his patients to be tested for infections.

The doctor has received two vaccination doses and is currently showing no symptoms. He experienced a fever after work and was hospitalised the following day after he tested positive for the virus, the metropolitan government said. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called for caution, asking people to consider carefully when making plans for the New Year holidays, usually when people travel to visit relatives.


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