Japan declares state of emergency for Tokyo area as virus cases surge

Japan declares state of emergency for Tokyo area as virus cases surge

Japan has declared a limited state of emergency in the capital, Tokyo, and three neighboring prefectures on Thursday to stem the spread of the coronavirus, resisting calls from some medics for wider curbs due to the economic damage they would cause.

The government said the one-month emergency would run from Friday to Feb. 7 in Tokyo and Saitama, Kanagawa and Chiba prefectures, covering about 30% of the country’s population. Restrictions would centre on combating transmission in bars and restaurants, which the government says are main risk areas.

The curbs are narrower in scope than those imposed in April under an emergency that ran to late May. At that time, the curbs were nationwide and schools and non-essential businesses were mostly shuttered. This time, schools are not being closed.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s government is seeking to limit damage to the world’s third-biggest economy while striving to defeat the virus once and for all as it looks ahead to staging the postponed summer Olympics.

“The global pandemic has been a tougher one than we expected, but I’m hopeful we can overcome this,” Suga told a televised news conference.

“For this to happen, I must ask citizens to endure life with some restrictions.”

Japan declares state of emergency for Tokyo area as virus cases surge



Some medical experts have said they fear the government’s plan for limited restrictions might not be enough.

“We may need to think about a state of emergency nationwide,” Toshio Nakagawa, president of the Japan Medical Association, said on Wednesday.

Suga said damage to the economy was inevitable but he would aim to protect jobs and businesses with a 70 trillion yen ($670 billion) stimulus package, which is being rolled out.

Japan, though less seriously hit by the pandemic than many places, has been unable to rein in the virus to the extent some countries in the region have, with recorded daily infections at more than 7,000 for the first time on Thursday, media reported.

Tokyo in particular has been a constant worry with its tally of positive tests jumping to 2,447 on Thursday, from a record of 1,591 the previous day.

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