Tokyo needs to extend the current state of emergency as the number of new coronavirus infections has continued to increase, Governor Yuriko Koike said on Thursday.
Tokyo confirmed 597 new infections in the last 24 hours, hitting below 600 cases for the first time in 10 days, while Osaka, a hot spot in western Japan, reported 747 cases, reports dpa news agency.
“We are not in a situation in which the state of emergency can be lifted. We believe it’s necessary to extend the measure,” Koike told reporters.
She also warned of the “rapid spread of more transmissible new variants” of the virus in the Olympic host city.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is likely to announce the extension of the state of emergency in Tokyo and three western prefectures on Friday, just two and a half months before the start of the postponed Tokyo Olympics.
Last month, Suga declared the measure in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo from April 25 to May 11, requesting bars and restaurants in the regions refrain from serving alcohol and offering a karaoke service.
Osaka also decided on Thursday to ask the central government to prolong the state of emergency, Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura said at a meeting with experts.
“It is very difficult to curb new infections in a short period of time,” he said.
The roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines began in mid-February, but its pace has been extremely slow.
Only 0.8 per cent of the population had been fully vaccinated as of Friday, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.