TOKYO — Japan’s southernmost prefecture of Okinawa is closing many schools to contain the nation's worst per capita rate of coronavirus infections.
Gov. Denny Tamaki said closing schools could curb the spread since roughly one in three cases were among people younger than 30.
Primary and secondary schools in 22 hotspot towns on Okinawa will be closed until June 20. The island and nine other regions of Japan are under a state of emergency, but Okinawa's infections have been near record-highs and hospital beds are occupied at almost full capacity.
Okinawa’s health experts have indicated that an influx of tourists during the early May holiday week triggered the surge, which raises further concerns about how the Tokyo Olympics might affect Japan's virus situation. The Games are all but certain to be held, despite discouragement from medical professionals and opposition by the Japanese public.
Across Japan, daily infections stand between 2,000 and 3,000 in the past few days, down from the recent peak of over 7,000 in early May. More than 13,000 have died of COVID-19 in the country, three-quarters of which happened this year.
Japan has so far fully vaccinated about 4 million people or 3% of its population.