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

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

“The infections are rising so rapidly, it’s terrifying,” said a 74-year-old resident of Tokyo’s Itabashi district who visited the Self-Defense Forces’ coronavirus vaccination center in the Chiyoda district on July 21. to receive his fourth vaccine. The woman usually travels with her 45-year-old son, who works in the health sector in Osaka Prefecture, his wife and two grandchildren who are in primary school when they come to visit. during the summer holidays. This year, however, the son has been busy dealing with COVID-19 cases, and the woman said he was unlikely to be able to visit her in Tokyo.

“Since there are not many serious cases, people may not be on high alert, but I would like everyone to pay attention to preventing infection,” she said. .

A 74-year-old Katsushika Ward resident, who said he had recently received his fourth vaccination, commented: “It’s hard to go on a long trip when you know people around me might tell me they have been ‘infected by a person from Tokyo.'” Although he used to visit his wife’s family in the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture, Kanazawa, every summer, he was unable to s to go there for the past three years. He muttered: “I thought I could finally go after the sixth wave of infections was over, but that might not be possible this year too.”

Meanwhile, others have decided to take the opportunity to visit their families. A 38-year-old woman from the capital’s Adachi district who had booked seats on a high-speed train bound for Nagoya in central Japan was at JR Tokyo station with her 9-year-old son. She said: “We wouldn’t be able to do anything if we kept changing plans every time infections increased.” His parents had asked him to avoid visiting them during the pandemic until last year, but apparently accepted the visit this year after receiving their fourth injection. “I would like to travel 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 carrying a Boston bag. He plans to stay with his parents in Kobe and meet his friends in western Japan. He stressed: “Since there are no travel restrictions, I think that if a person is infected, it is their responsibility. This summer, I would like to enjoy the holidays as normally as possible, while taking preventive measures against infection.” He added: “I think it’s okay to stop making a fuss just by looking at the infection numbers.”

Ryuta Fujii, a 19-year-old college freshman who passed through Tokyo Dome City, which was packed with students and families, said he would return to his hometown in Kumamoto Prefecture during the summer vacation . “I will be going back because I want to see my grandfather and grandmother as much as possible while they are well. I am doing my best to take infection control measures,” he said.

A 33-year-old woman from the Edogawa district, who was with her 6-year-old daughter, said she was unsure about visiting her family. She said: “If possible, I would like my family members to see my child, but I also think I will not be able to go if infections increase and travel restrictions are put in place. I would like keep an eye on the news.”

(Japanese original by Seiho Akimaru and Ai Kunimoto, Tokyo City News Department)

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