Japan issues COVID state of emergency in seven more prefectures

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga decided on Wednesday to expand a state of emergency over the Covid-19 pandemic to some other parts of the country as Japan suffered a resurgence of virus infections.

According to dpa news, Suga issued a state of emergency in an additional seven prefectures, including Kyoto, Osaka and Fukuoka, which brings the number of prefectures under the measure to 11.

The government has requested that residents in the 11 prefectures avoid unnecessary outings and that bars and restaurants close by 8 pm. The measure lasts until February 7.

“The status of infection has continued to be very serious,” Health Minister Norihisa Tamura said at a meeting of experts.

The minister urged the public to refrain from non-essential and non-urgent outings even during daytime.

“Depending on where it goes from here, it is an option to expand the state of emergency to the whole country,” Toshio Nakagawa, chairman of the Japan Medical Association, told a news conference. “We want the government to take measures ahead of time.”

The month-long state of emergency was declared on Thursday for Tokyo and its neighbouring three prefectures of Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama, as the region was struggling to rein in a severe third wave of the pandemic.

About 79 per cent of those polled said Thursday’s move comes “too late” while nearly 78 per cent said the measure should be expanded to other areas, according to a Kyodo News survey published on Sunday.

On Friday, Japan reported a record 7,711 new infections, including 2,392 cases in Tokyo, marking the highest daily rise for the fourth day in a row.

In Tokyo, almost everyone wears a mask in public, but commuter trains were still packed even after the government imposed the measure and urged more people to work from home.