COVID-19 in Shiga Prefecture
by Philbert Ono
COVID-19 Cases in Shiga
|As of Aug. 3, 2020 (JST)|
Total Confirmed Cases:
|Discharged from hospital:||125|
|City/Town||COVID-19 Cases||COVID-19 Deaths|
|Imported/unknown area cases||6||0|
Despite its proximity to Kyoto and large numbers commuting to Kyoto/Osaka, Shiga Prefecture (pop. 1.4 million) has had relatively few cases of COVID-19 (as of late April). After February 2020 with no confirmed cases, Shiga Prefecture finally saw its first coronavirus case on March 5. An age 60s man in Otsu. For quite a few days, Shiga got by with only single-digit cases until it started seeing clusters by early April. On April 14, Shiga saw its first death due to COVID-19, a man in his 60s in Otsu. The most cases in Shiga are currently in Kusatsu and Otsu which have seen a few known clusters.
In late March in Kyoto, three COVID-19 infected male students returned from a European trip in mid-March and foolishly partied with fellow students at Kyoto Sangyo University. By March 30, 16 students & staff at the university were confirmed cases. At least two of the infected people live in Shiga.
On April 4, a health food store worker at Foleo Otsu Ichiriyama shopping mall was found to have COVID-19, forcing most of the mall to close and disinfect from April 5 until further notice.
By April 6, Nichicon Kusatsu (ニチコン草津), an electronics parts maker in Kusatsu, suffered a cluster of at least 12 infected workers, forcing 300 of its employees to stay home. Otsu, Kusatsu, and Ritto subsequently closed their public schools. By April 7, Shiga Prefecture has 24 confirmed cases of coronavirus. It had been increasing almost daily in the past few days.
By April 11, another cluster erupted inside Otsu City Hall. Two Otsu City Hall workers tested positive for COVID-19. The first was confirmed on April 11, an age 40s male in the urban planning dept. Other confirmed on April 13, also age 40s male in the same dept. The cluster later increased to 11 and led to the closure of Otsu City Hall from April 25 to May 6. The infected workers had worked on the 3rd & 4th floors in the urban planning & construction depts. At least one worker infected his six family members. 1,200 workers forced to stay home, but 36 branch offices & call center remain open. This embarrassing news made national headlines.
On April 14, Shiga saw 11 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the most ever in one day. They include a baby boy in Yasu hospitalized in Omi-Hachiman Community Medical Center where 4 close contact doctors and 14 nurses entered self-isolation for 2 weeks.
Also on April 14, Shiga saw its first death due to COVID-19, a man in his 60s in Otsu. A company owner & confirmed with COVID-19 on April 7. No underlying illness, but his condition worsened with breathing difficulties and he died despite having a ventilator while hospitalized.
As of April 16, Shiga has 57 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The 5 latest cases this day include a daycare infant and a worker at Hankyu Oasis Kusatsu Branch supermarket. The supermarket has closed for disinfection. A state of emergency has been declared for all of Japan until May 6.
To relieve pressure on hospitals, Shiga opened Hotel Piazza Biwako in Otsu on April 22 for COVID-19 patients having mild symptoms. Total of 62 rooms from the 8th to 10th floors have been rented by Shiga. One patient per room. Two nurses 24/7 and on-site doctor during the day.
On April 22, 12 COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Shiga, the most ever in one day. Includes 4 female cases at a dental clinic cluster in Kusatsu caused by an infected dental hygienist, and 6 cases were family members (wife, 3 sons, and 2 parents) of an infected Otsu City Hall male worker.
Toward the end of April 2020, the number of cases reported daily decreased.
For five days in a row from April 29 to May 3, no cases have been reported in Shiga.
A 40s woman in Otsu was releaased from the hospital on April 30 after testing negative, but she soon developed symptoms and tested positive on May 8. She is the second person in Shiga to test positive a second time. Doctors believe she still had the virus all along.
State of Emergency in Shiga and 38 other prefectures was lifted on May 15. Karaoke parlors, fitness gyms, sports facilities, pachinko parlors, and other leisure/amusement facilities are allowed to reopen with anti-infection measures in place. Restaurants can also operate at normal hours. Large events and traveling to and out of Shiga will continue to be discouraged. Masks, hand washing, social distancing, etc., will still be required.
In July 2020, like many other prefectures, Shiga is seeing more cases almost every day. On Aug. 3, 2020, the number of cases in Shiga topped 200.
*Latest COVID-19 news for Shiga here: https://twitter.com/ShigaHeadlines
*COVID-19 statistics for Japan and other prefectures: https://toyokeizai.net/sp/visual/tko/covid19/en.html
*Coronavirus English-Japanese vocabulary: https://photoguide.jp/log/2020/04/coronavirus-pandemic-japanese-vocabulary/
Shiga Consultation Center for Foreigners (Weekdays, 10 am–5 pm) call: 077-523-5646 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more coronavirus health information and telephone hotline in Shiga, click here.