Japan to expand state of emergency to 8 more prefectures


Japan is set to expand the Covid-19 state of emergency currently covering Tokyo and 12 other areas to eight more prefectures amid the latest resurgence of infections.

With the expansion, Hokkaido, Miyagi, Gifu, Aichi, Mie, Shiga, Okayama and Hiroshima will also be under the state of emergency, reports Xinhua news agency.

Under the tougher measures, restaurants are asked not to serve alcohol or provide karaoke service, and are instructed to close by 8 p.m.

Major commercial facilities like department stores are asked to limit the number of customers allowed in at the same time.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga met his cabinet members including Health Minister Norihisa Tamura and Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of Covid-19 response, to discuss the expansion, with the official decision to be determined at a task force meeting on Wednesday.

Suga has also called on the public to cut 50 percent of going out to crowded places, while asking companies to have employees work from home and reduce the number of commuters by 70 per cent.

The state of emergency is currently enforced in Tokyo as well as in Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Chiba, Saitama, Kanagawa, Shizuoka, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, Fukuoka, and Okinawa prefectures.

In addition, the quasi-state of emergency covers 16 prefectures.

With the rapid surge in Covid-19 infections, hospitals across much of Japan are struggling, with a dearth of beds forcing many with milder symptoms to cope at home.

As of Monday, the number of hospitalizations due to the pandemic in Tokyo exceeded 4,000 for the first time, and about 25,000 patients are recovering at home due to bed shortage.

Tokyo reported 4,220 new cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the capital’s total number of infections to 100,961.

Tokyo’s seven-day average daily infections is 4,636.9, rising 2.4 per cent from a week ago.

Meanwhile, the nationwide Covid-19 caseload and death toll currently stood at 1,318,346 and 15,663, respectively.