Tokyo, Jan 4 (efe-epa).- Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Monday that the government was considering declaring another state of emergency in Tokyo and the surrounding areas due to the continued rise of Covid-19 cases that have piled up the pressure on the country’s healthcare system.
The emergency declaration, if announced, would affect the capital and three neighboring prefectures of Saitama, Chiba, and Kanagawa.
The government would discuss the possible implementation of emergency during the week with the panel of experts advising the administration, Suga told reporters.
The federal government had declared a state of emergency at the beginning of April last year in several prefectures, including Tokyo and Osaka.
The government extended the emergency measure across the country before revoking it at the end of May.
There has been a record increase in coronavirus infections in the country in recent weeks.
“We will consider the issuance of an emergency declaration” for the Tokyo region, said Suga, who had ruled out implementing the harsh step again due to its high impact on the economy.
The state of emergency would allow local authorities to ban mass events, close schools, or regulate bar and restaurant hours but does not include blanket lockdown.
Last weekend, the governors of Tokyo and the other three prefectures worst-affected by the virus had asked the central government to declare a state of emergency due to the record levels of coronavirus infections that these regions have been seeing.
The Japanese capital recorded more than 1,300 infections on Thursday, the highest daily to date, the same day that the country also exceeded 4,000 infections for the first time.
Tokyo has recorded more than 62,500 Covid-19 infections to date, which is a large chunk of the cases registered throughout Japan that stand at about 245,200, including 3,632 deaths.
The Japanese prime minister also announced the government’s plans to start a nationwide Covid-19 vaccination campaign towards the end of February, once the approval process is completed.
Suga said the government will proceed with the safety and efficacy evaluations of the vaccine to have it approved by the end of February.
The first population groups to be vaccinated will be healthcare workers, elderly people, and those in aged care homes, he added.
The 72-year-old Japanese leader said he would be among the first to receive the vaccine.
Suga also reaffirmed that the Tokyo Olympics will be held in summer as scheduled despite the surge in infections in Japan and the country’s border restrictions, which ban the entry of foreigners with some exceptions. EFE-EPA