Japan is expanding Covid-19 restrictions to additional prefectures as the number of new cases, mostly driven by a Delta variant, continues increasing across the nation with no signs of plateauing during the Tokyo Summer Olympics and the country’s summer holiday season.
The government today decided at a taskforce meeting to impose strict measures in eight more prefectures under a semi-emergency state during 8-31 August. The eight prefectures are Fukushima in the northeast; Ibaraki, Tochigi and Gumma north of Tokyo; Aichi and Shizuoka on the central coast; Shiga adjacent to Kyoto; and Kumamoto on Kyushu island.
“There was opinion among experts that Japan is in severe condition that could warrant a nationwide state of emergency,” economy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said.
Japan earlier this week extended a current state of emergency to a wider area and until the end of this month with a Covid-19 infection resurgence. It also imposed a semi-emergency state in five prefectures that include Fukuoka, which today requested the government to reimpose a state of emergency in the southern prefecture in the face of soaring new infections.
Nishimura, the minister in charge of the government’s Covid-19 response measures, told an expert panel earlier today that the government plans to request for as tough measures as those under a state of emergency in the eight prefectures in efforts to combat infections that are “increasing at an unprecedented speed.” Such measures will include a ban on serving alcohol in principle and travel curbs during the country’s traditional Obon homecoming holiday in mid-August.
The country’s daily new cases averaged 11,213 over the past week and hit a record 14,204 cases yesterday, according to government data. Tokyo and its surrounding prefectures of Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba accounted for half of yesterday’s new cases, while Tokyo alone reported a record 4,166 daily cases yesterday.