Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday officially announced that three more prefectures – Hokkaido, Okayama, and Hiroshima – will be placed under a COVID-19 state of emergency due to a recent spike in infections.
“Today, we decided to add Hokkaido, Okayama and Hiroshima to the area under the state of emergency from May 16 to 31,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced at a virus task-force meeting.
The fresh declaration came just 10 weeks before the pandemic-delayed Olympic Games, scheduled to start on July 23.
On April 25, Japan had already placed Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures under virus emergency and those areas will also come out of the alert on May 31.
The continued spread of Covid-19 cases and extended emergency period are further weighing on Japan’s economic outlook. The total of 19 prefectures that are facing stricter Covid-19 measures account for around 70pc of Japan’s population and gross domestic product, according to government data. The Tokyo Summer Olympics is also only a few months away, while only around 1pc of the population has completed Covid-19 vaccinations.
Emergency measures have slowed increases in new Covid-19 cases in Tokyo and Osaka areas, but local health systems remain under significant strain. New infections are rapidly growing in other areas, taking the country’s daily total above 7,000 on 9 May for the first time since mid-January. Total cases have stayed above 7,000 in the past two days.
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