TOKYO (AP) – Japan’s government will extend the state of emergency in Tokyo province for another two weeks as its medical systems are still strained by COVID-19 patients, the virus-fighting minister said on Friday.
“We will maintain the means for another two weeks so that we can firmly alleviate the hospital load to meet the conditions for lifting the emergency measures,” Economic Recovery Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters.
Nishimura said the government had received initial approval from experts to extend the state of emergency in Tokyo’s three neighboring prefectures until March 21. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is due to formally announce the plan on Friday evening, following parliamentary approval.
He said medical systems in the region were still overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients, and more hospital beds needed to be vacated.
On January 7, Suga declared a month-long state of emergency for Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba, which was postponed until March 7. Last week, a state of emergency was lifted in other prefectures, underscoring the government’s desire to allow businesses to return to normal as soon as possible.
The non-compulsory state of emergency focuses on voluntarily closing restaurants, bars and other businesses at 8pm. Japan aponia has never had a mandatory blockade, but social distance և thus voluntarily managed to keep infections relatively low.
Controlling the spread of the virus, along with the progress of vaccinations, is key to aponia, as Tokyo has been hosting the Olympics since July 23, which has been postponed for a year due to the virus.
Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, the governor of the neighboring prefectures, has expressed concern that the lifting of the state of emergency this weekend could lead to a rapid return of infections.
Reaching around 2,000 in Tokyo in early January, the number of new cases has dropped significantly every day, but the decline has slowed recently. Tokyo reported 278 new cases on Thursday, down slightly from 316 the previous day to a total of 112,624. At the national level, Japan aponia reported more than 436,000 cases և about 8,000 deaths as of Thursday.
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