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Japan expected to extend COVID-19 state of emergency: Reports

Japan expected to extend COVID-19 state of emergency: Reports

FILE PHOTO: A security guard wearing a protective face mask is seen amid the COVID-19 outbreak, at an observation deck in Tokyo, Japan on Jan 22, 2021. (Photo: REUTERS/Issei Kato)

TOKYO: Japan is expected to extend a state of emergency to fight the spread of COVID-19 this week for Tokyo and other areas as hospitals remain under pressure despite a decline in cases from their peaks, local media reported on Monday (Feb 1).

The government will decide on the extension after a meeting of its experts panel this week, public broadcaster NHK said.

The government last month declared a one-month state of emergency, due to end on Sunday, for 11 areas including Tokyo and its neighbouring prefectures, as part of measures to rein in the pandemic.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has launched a raft of measures to contain a third wave of infections as his government remains determined that the Olympics go ahead as planned on Jul 23.

READ: Japan's PM Suga says he is determined to hold Olympics this summer

But support for his administration has weakened over unhappiness with its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which critics have called too slow and inconsistent.

The government may also consider lifting the state of emergency in some less-populated areas such as Tochigi Prefecture, which has seen a decline in cases, local media said.

A Nikkei newspaper poll showed 90 per cent of respondents favoured extending the emergency period in areas where it is implemented.

READ: Dry ice, containers and overworked doctors: The hurdles for Japan's COVID-19 vaccine roll-out

READ: Tokyo revises COVID-19 contact tracing strategy to focus on higher-risk cases

Japan has had a total of 390,687 coronavirus cases and 5,766 deaths, NHK said. In Tokyo, new cases totalled 633 on Sunday, below 1,000 for the third consecutive day.

Separately, the lower house is expected to pass on Monday a revision to the coronavirus special measures law, followed by upper house approval on Wednesday, NHK said. 

The revision would toughen regulations and allow authorities to levy fines on those who break the law. 

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Source: Reuters/ga

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