Japan could declare 1-month virus emergency for Tokyo area this week

Baku, January 4, AZERTAC

Japan plans to declare another state of emergency in Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures, possibly to take effect for about one month from Saturday, to curb the spread of the coronavirus as infections have continued rising, government officials said Monday, according to Kyodo News.

The plan comes after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga touched on the need to consider such a special measure, following one put in place in April last year, as the greater Tokyo area is responsible for about half of the some 3,000 new daily cases reported in recent weeks.

But Suga hinted in a New Year's press conference that social and economic activities are unlikely to be halted across the board this time, saying the state of emergency should be implemented "in a limited and focused manner."

The officials said the measure is likely to request that people stay home as much as possible, but no school closures are planned.

"We will consider the issuance of an emergency declaration," Suga said at the prime minister's office. "It is a fact that the number of people infected with the novel coronavirus has not declined but remained high in Tokyo and the three adjacent prefectures."

"Taking this seriously, we thought we need to issue a stronger message," he said.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike and her counterparts in Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama prefectures on Saturday urged the central government to issue a second declaration for their areas, days after the capital reported more than 1,300 new coronavirus cases in a single day for the first time.

The local governments are now arranging to jointly ask dining and drinking establishments to close by 8 p.m. from later this week, further cutting their operating hours from the 10 p.m. closing time currently requested, to prevent the further spread of the virus.

Suga said the government will seek to begin vaccinations against COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus, in late February for front-line health care workers.

The 72-year-old premier said he would "set an example" by taking a COVID-19 vaccination.

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