Dozen Japanese regions raise health alert over record Covid-19 cases

Tokyo, Jan 19 (EFE).- Japan decided Wednesday to raise the health alert for coronavirus in Tokyo and 12 other prefectures due to the spread of the omicron variant, on a day in which it registered 40,000 infections countrywide, a new record.

The government declared a state of “quasi-emergency” due to coronavirus in some of the main Japanese regions, which will allow local authorities to reapply restrictions that will mainly affect businesses such as bars and restaurants.

“We have made this decision in order to stop the expansion with the measures concentrated in the affected areas,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in statements to the media after an executive meeting.

Tokyo and the other twelve regions covered by the measure will resort to anti-contagion measures that were last in force in the capital until the end of September, when they were lifted after the continued decline in infections.

Since January, Japan has experienced a rebound in infections at an unprecedented speed, attributed to the spread of the omicron variant.

“We need to prevent the spread of infections, given their potential to put the health system under great pressure in the short term,” Pandemic Management Minister Daishiro Yamagiwa, also in charge of economic revitalization, said Wednesday.

The declaration of the “quasi-emergency,” which came after a meeting of the executive with its panel of health advisors, will give regional governments the power to take measures such as limiting opening hours of bars and restaurants, prohibiting alcohol sales and limiting spectator numbers at mass events.

Japanese authorities, who at no time during the pandemic have applied the mandatory confinement of the population, have ruled out recommending citizens to avoid traveling between regions.

In early January, Okinawa, Yamaguchi and Hiroshima prefectures re-imposed restrictions as they were the first to be affected by the sixth wave of infections in Japan. With Wednesday’s decision there will be 15 of 47 Japanese regions re-applying anti-contagion measures.

The restrictions will begin Friday in Tokyo and 12 other regions and will be in force for about three weeks. EFE


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