Japan will extend the Covid-19 state of emergency currently in effect in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures until the end of the month, the Minister in charge of the government’s coronavirus response said on Friday.

Yasutoshi Nishimura also said that Aichi and Fukuoka will be added to the four prefectures under the emergency measures from May 12, reports Xinhua news agency.

He told a meeting that a state of emergency being declared in Aichi and Fukuoka prefectures will allow their respective governors and authorities to implement stricter measures in a bid to prevent the further spread of Covid-19.

Nishimura’s remarks on the extension of the state of emergency and the expanded coverage are to be formalised in the afternoon by the government.

Government officials said the previous day that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will declare a state of emergency in Aichi and Fukuoka prefectures and confirm the extension of the current emergency periods on Friday.

“The government will consult with our expert panel on Friday about extending the state of emergency. We would like to decide how long it will last and where it will be in effect,” he said.

Quasi-states of emergency currently in place for Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Ehime and Okinawa prefectures will also be extended to the end of May and Hokkaido, Gifu and Mie prefectures will be added to the list, government officials said.

The quasi-states of emergency being declared are based on a revised law enabling the central government to declare a situation that falls short of a fully-fledged state of emergency but allows for special measures to be taken to counter the spread of the virus in areas on the brink of an all-out state of emergency.

Despite the nation’s third state of emergency being declared, some prefectural Governors, among criticism over the central government’s sluggish vaccination rollout, believe the anti-virus measures to date have been toothless amid the ongoing fourth wave of infections.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, for example, has voiced concern over the rising cases of highly-contagious virus variants spreading around the capital.

She believes the virus situation in Tokyo remains severe to the point it is too early to lift the state of emergency

–IANS

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