Japan's hard-hit regions may slide back to COVID-19 state of emergency


FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians wearing protective face masks, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, are seen in front of the Tsutenkaku Tower in Osaka, Japan in this photo taken by Kyodo April 7, 2021. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS

TOKYO (Reuters) -A recent surge in COVID-19 cases could see major parts of Japan slide back into states of emergency with authorities in Tokyo and Osaka looking at renewed curbs to stop the spread.

The new wave of infections complicates preparations for the Tokyo Olympic Games, which are due to start in July having already been postponed due to the global coronavirus outbreak last year.

Japan this month put Osaka, Tokyo, and eight other prefectures under "quasi-states of emergency" aimed at controlling the spread of COVID-19 with shorter business hours for restaurants and bars and stronger calls for teleworking.

But those measures have done little to reverse the trend so far, with Osaka reporting a record 1,220 cases on Sunday, two weeks after those restrictions took effect as a mutant strain fueled the spread.

"The fruits of these measures should be appearing now," Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura told reporters in comments carried online.

"Medical services are also in a dire state, and we've decided that we need a state of emergency. We need stronger measures such as those that would stop the movement of people," he said, adding that Japan's third-most populous prefecture would make the formal request to the government on Tuesday.

In a TV Asahi poll published Monday, just over half of respondents said they believed the "quasi-emergency" restrictions were ineffective.

Tokyo is also considering a state-of-emergency request, Governor Yuriko Koike told reporters late on Sunday, in a step backwards as Japan scrambles to bring the pandemic under control ahead of the Summer Olympics.

"Taking pre-emptive action is crucial right now," Koike said. Tokyo reported 543 new cases on Sunday, the 18th straight day of seven-day increases.

Asked about possible requests from Osaka and Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, the government's top spokesman, said any such calls would need to be considered "swiftly."

(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim, Makiko Yamazaki, Daniel Leussink; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Sam Holmes)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 46
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
   

Next In World

Israel bombs Hamas Gaza chief's home as fighting enters seventh day
Ecuador indigenous protestors block access to Petroecuador oil field
Trinidad and Tobago declares state of emergency as COVID-19 cases surge
Peru presidential candidate Castillo rejects claim of false declaration
Chileans head to polls to pick architects of new constitution
Former Italian PM Berlusconi slips out of hospital unseen
U.S. envoy wants pope to attend climate conference, sway debate
Not everyone ready to give up masks despite CDC decision
Bodies of COVID-19 victims among those dumped in India's Ganges -gov't document
'I'm finally here': Greece formally opens to tourists

Stories You'll Enjoy


Vouchers