Japan faces putting majority of 47 prefs. under COVID quasi-emergency

22-Jan-2022 Intellasia | Kyodo News | 5:02 AM Print This Post

More than half of Japan’s 47 prefectures are set to come under a quasi-state of emergency as 13 more areas including Osaka announced they are seeking, or are moving to seek, restrictions on restaurants and bars to cope with surging coronavirus infections. Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo in western Japan, as well as Hokkaido, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Shizuoka prefectures, requested the measure Friday as the country’s daily coronavirus cases topped 47,000, renewing the record for the fourth straight day.

As the rapid spread of infections raises concern about the strain on the medical system, a quasi-state of emergency was put in place Friday in Tokyo and 12 other prefectures for three weeks, allowing their governors to ask restaurants and bars to close early and stop or limit the serving of alcohol.

Tokyo confirmed 9,699 daily coronavirus cases Friday, eclipsing the previous record high of 8,638 logged the previous day, while the Osaka prefectural government said it also hit a fresh high of 6,254.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said at a press conference the same day that the capital would work as one with residents and businesses to “stop infections while not stopping society.”

In addition to the eight prefectures that officially sought quasi-emergencies Friday, five more prefectures including Fukuoka, Saga and Oita in southwestern Japan are preparing to make similar requests.

The central government is arranging to make a decision as early as next Tuesday on any official requests it receives from prefectures, according to sources close to the matter.

A quasi-state of emergency is now in effect in 16 prefectures after Hiroshima, Yamaguchi and Okinawa were placed under the measure from January 9 following a spike in infections that local officials linked to nearby US military bases whose personnel were previously exempt from being tested for the coronavirus before coming to Japan.

Yamaguchi Gov. Tsugumasa Muraoka told reporters Friday that he plans to request the central government extend the quasi-state of emergency in his prefecture past its planned end date of January 31.

Many areas have been struggling with what has become the country’s “sixth wave” of infections, driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant. Japan’s cumulative total of COVID infections has exceeded 2 million.

In Osaka, the ratio of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients reached 35.8 percent Thursday, surpassing the 35 percent threshold for requesting a quasi-emergency declaration.



Category: Japan

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