Japan faces putting majority of 47 prefs. Under COVID quasi-emergency
TOKYO. KAZINFORM - A majority of Japan's 47 prefectures have come under or are moving to seek restrictions on restaurants and bars to cope with surging coronavirus infections, with 12 more areas including Osaka set to seek quasi-state of emergency declarations by the central government in coming days, Kyodo reports.
Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo in western Japan as well as Hokkaido and Shizuoka in northern and central Japan, respectively, were due to request the measure Friday after the country saw a new record for daily coronavirus cases for a third straight day, with the figure topping 46,000 Thursday.
As the rapid spread of infections raises concern about the strain on the medical system, a quasi-state of emergency was put in place Friday in Tokyo and 12 other prefectures for three weeks, allowing their governors to ask restaurants and bars to close early and stop or limit the serving of alcohol.
In addition to the five prefectures that are set to seek quasi-emergencies, seven more prefectures including Fukuoka, Saga and Oita in southwestern Japan are preparing to make similar requests.
The central government is arranging to make a decision as early as next Tuesday on any official requests it receives from prefectures, according to sources close to the matter.
A quasi-state of emergency is now in effect in 16 prefectures after Hiroshima, Yamaguchi and Okinawa were placed under the measure from Jan. 9 following a spike in infections that local officials linked to nearby U.S. military bases.
Many areas have been struggling with what has become the country's «sixth wave» of infections, driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant. Japan's cumulative total of COVID infections has exceeded 2 million.
In Osaka, the ratio of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients reached 35.8 percent Thursday, surpassing the 35 percent threshold for requesting a quasi-emergency declaration.