Covid state of emergency ends in Tokyo region

Japan on Monday ended the coronavirus state of emergency that was in place in Tokyo and its surrounding prefectures despite growing concerns about a resurgence of new infections and increasing cases of new strains of the virus.

Tokyo and the prefectures of Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa, which had been the last remaining regions subject to restrictions, are still struggling to rein in new infections, dpa news agency reported.

According to Kyodo News, Japan confirmed 1,119 new cases, including 256 in Tokyo, and 20 Covid-19-related deaths on Sunday, compared with a record 7,851 on January 8.

Even under with the measure in place, commuter trains in Tokyo were still crowded and major department stores were full of customers on weekends though almost everyone was wearing a mask in public.

The government declared the state of emergency in the four prefectures in January and seven other prefectures were added to the measure six days later.

It was lifted in Tochigi, north of Tokyo, in February and six other prefectures earlier this month.

The rollout of Covid-19 vaccines, which started in mid-February, has been slow and much of the public is unlikely to receive it before the opening of the postponed Tokyo Olympics on July 23.

Japan has so far reported 457,577 Covid-19 cases and 8,849 deaths, according to a tally by public broadcaster, NHK.