Japan set to extend state of emergency for another month
Japan is set to extend a state of emergency in Tokyo and other regions for another month on Tuesday, seeking to keep the upper hand over a COVID-19 outbreak even as daily case numbers begin to edge down.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is expected to formally announce the extension to March 7 later in the day following a recommendation from an expert coronavirus response panel.
“The number of new coronavirus cases is falling, but caution is still needed,” Katsunobu Kato, chief cabinet secretary, told reporters before the panel met. Kato added that hospitals remained full and the death rate had not fallen.
Japan has reported a total of just under 392,000 COVID-19 cases, including just over 5,800 deaths. Tokyo reported 556 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday.
Suga and his government remain determined to host the delayed 2020 Summer Olympics, currently scheduled for July-August, despite the resurgence of the virus in Japan.
The government last month imposed a one-month state of emergency for 11 areas, including Tokyo and neighbouring prefectures as well as the western city of Osaka, to combat the country’s third and most lethal coronavirus wave.
Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who also oversees coronavirus policies, said Tochigi prefecture, north of the capital, was excluded from the extension.
However, official measures to control the coronavirus have been hamstrung by a lack of legal weight, including any penalties, meaning the government can only request people follow directives.
That may change later this week with the passage of a revision to the coronavirus special measures law that will allow authorities to levy fines on people who break the law. The revision passed the lower house on Monday and is expected to be approved by the upper house on Wednesday…..read more