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Gov’t to add Okinawa to COVID-19 state of emergency: source

20 May 2021 12:13

TOKYO. KAZINFORM - The Japanese government is making arrangements to add Okinawa Prefecture to the areas under its COVID-19 state of emergency declaration amid surging infections in the southern island region, a government source said Thursday, Kyodo reports.

The planned addition of Okinawa would bring the total number of prefectures under the emergency to 10. The move comes after Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki on Wednesday asked for his prefecture to be added as the spread of infections increasingly strains the health system.

«We are sharing information on the infection situation and the level of strain on the medical system with Okinawa Prefecture,» said Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato at a news conference.

The government is expected to reject a request from the governor of Gifu Prefecture to be included in the emergency declaration, deeming the infection situation there as stable, the source said. A formal decision on the target area will be made Friday.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has already declared a state of emergency in nine prefectures including Tokyo and Osaka until May 31, with restaurants and bars being told to close by 8 p.m.

Okinawa is currently under a quasi-state of emergency, which allows the governor to single out areas with anti-virus measures such as telling restaurants to close early. In contrast, a full-fledged emergency declaration covers an entire prefecture.

A popular tourist destination for its warm climate, beaches and distinct Ryukyu culture, Okinawa also hosts the bulk of the U.S. military presence in Japan.


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