3 prefectures near Tokyo to request for emergency declaration

Three prefectures near Tokyo will jointly request the Japanese government to declare a Covid-19 state of emergency following a recent increase in new Covid-19 cases, local media reported on Thursday.

Chiba Governor Toshihito Kumagai has expressed “a strong sense of crisis” over the rapid spread of the virus, reports Xinhua news agency.

Yasutoshi Nishimura, Minister in charge of the Covid-19 response, said he would “swiftly decide and respond flexibly once the request is made” by Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama prefectures.

Japan’s daily Covid-19 cases in total struck a record number of 9,583 on Wednesday, and the Olympic host city Tokyo, which is already under an emergency state until August 22, has faced surging cases with a record high of 3,177 infections.

The three neighbouring prefectures also reported record single-day highs.

The three prefectures are currently under a quasi-state of emergency, with fewer restrictions on business activity than the state of emergency.

Shigeru Omi, an infectious disease expert who leads the government subcommittee on the Covid-19, urged the government in a parliamentary hearing on Thursday to give out a strong message to citizens, warning about the rising stress on the health care system.

“I have a strong sense of crisis. There are not many factors that will lower the current level of infections,” said Omi.

He also said the “greatest danger is in the fact that the general public does not share a sense of crisis”, and that such a situation would bring a further spread of the virus.

“I want the government to send out a message that is clearer and stronger than ever without missing this timing,” Omi said.