Japanese government to urge more telecommuting as coronavirus cases surge

Japan has largely avoided the mass infections that have killed tens of thousands overseas. (Reuters)
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Updated 27 July 2020

Japanese government to urge more telecommuting as coronavirus cases surge

  • Companies called on to encourage staggered shifts and avoid large after-work gatherings for drinks or meals
  • More than 30,000 people in Japan have been infected and nearly 1,000 have died

TOKYO: Japan’s economy minister said on Monday the government would urge businesses to aim for 70 percent telecommuting and enhance other social distancing measures amid a rise in coronavirus cases among workers, some infected during after-work socializing.
Though Japan has largely avoided the mass infections that have killed tens of thousands overseas, a record surge in cases during the past week in Tokyo and other major urban areas has experts worried the country faces a second wave.
Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura on Monday said in a video meeting with Japanese governors that business leaders will be asked to ramp up anti-virus measures such as encouraging the level of telecommuting achieved during Japan’s state of emergency this year, when it hit 70 percent to 80 percent. It has since fallen to about 30 percent, he added.
He also called on companies to encourage staggered shifts and avoid large after-work gatherings for drinks or meals.
Tokyo last week reported a daily record of 366 cases last week, with numbers also rising in Osaka. The southern city of Fukuoka reported a record 90 cases on Sunday.
Despite the rise in cases, the government does not plan to call another state of emergency, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.
“The situation compared to April is very different,” he said, citing the small number of serious cases as well as fewer cases among the elderly.
On Monday, 131 new cases were confirmed in the capital, Governor Yuriko Koike said, but noted that testing had fallen to about 20 percent of normal over the extended holiday weekend. She added that serious cases rose by one, to 19.
Concern has grown about clusters, specifically those involving host and hostess bars or connected to after-work socializing, along with a rise in cases among those in their 40s and 50s.
The rate of telecommuting has lagged in Japan because of a paper-driven culture and technological shortcomings, experts say.
The central government remains determined to restart economic activity and last week launched a domestic travel campaign in the face of widespread criticism.
More than 30,000 people in Japan have been infected and nearly 1,000 have died.


At least 16 dead as India airliner crashes on landing

Updated 6 min 49 sec ago

At least 16 dead as India airliner crashes on landing

  • The Air India Express plane from Dubai had 191 passengers and crew on board when it overshot the runway
  • There were 10 infants on board

NEW DELHI: At least 16 people were killed Friday when a passenger jet overshot and skidded off the runway as it landed in southern India, breaking into two pieces, officials said.
Dozens of people were injured, 15 of them seriously, after the Air India Express Boeing 737 originating from Dubai touched down in Kozhikode in heavy rain.
The airline said more than 190 passengers and crew were on board the plane that, according to the aviation ministry, plunged 10 meters (35 feet) down a slope off the end of the raised so-called table-top runway.
Television footage showed the fuselage of the jet ripped apart and surrounded by emergency personnel working in the dark, spraying the wreckage with water although there was no sign of any fire.
Sakeen K., the district medical officer in the nearby city of Malappuram, said that 16 people had died.
“We are still ascertaining the toll,” she told AFP.
Kozhikode official Seeram Sambasiva said that the two pilots were among the dead.
Senior local policeman Abdul Karim told AFP said that another 15 passengers “have critical injuries. It is still a developing situation.”
“We have at least 89 people, many of them with serious injuries, admitted at different Kozhikode hospitals. The ambulances are still coming in,” said Sujith Das, another senior police official.
“We have been told that all those who have survived the crash also have some form of injuries.”
Aviation regulator DGCA said the plane skidded off the end of the runway and “fell down in the valley and broke down in two pieces.”
Four people were still stuck inside the plane. media reports said.
One television channel reported there had been a problem with the jet’s landing gear.
Air India Express said in a statement that there was “no fire reported at the time of landing.”
It said there were 174 passengers, 10 infants, two pilots and five cabin crew on board the aircraft.
The plane was one of dozens in recent weeks to repatriate some of the thousands of Indians left stranded abroad by the coronavirus pandemic, many of them in Gulf countries.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his condolences.
“My thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones. May the injured recover at the earliest... Authorities are at the spot, providing all assistance to the affected,” Modi said.
The last major plane crash in India was in 2010 when an Air India Express Boeing 737-800 from Dubai to Mangalore overshot the runway and burst into flames.
The crash killed 158 people and left eight survivors.
Kerala has been battered by heavy rains in recent days.
At least 15 people were killed on Friday after a landslide triggered by heavy rains flattened a row of huts elsewhere in the state.
Around 50 other people were feared trapped in the debris. The dead included two children.