Japan expands Covid-19 emergency amid Games

Tokyo, July 30 (EFE).- Japan Friday extended the state of health emergency in Tokyo until August end and expanded the measure to four more neighboring regions after record spikes in Covid-19 infection amid ongoing Olympics in the capital.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the decision was aimed to contain “the rapid increase in infections” in in the Tokyo and neighboring areas.

He warned of a healthcare system collapse if the spike continued with that speed, particularly with the spread of the highly infectious delta variant.

The decision will also affect the Osaka prefecture (west).

Tokyo registered some 3,300 new infections on Friday.

A day before, the capital added record-breaking 3,865 new cases.

Infections across Japan exceeded 10,000 on Thursday for the first time since the pandemic began.

The health emergency in force in Tokyo before the Games began on July 23 will last until the end of August.

The authorities had earlier planned to remove the state of health emergency by Aug.20.

The government extended the emergency to Saitama, Chiba, and Kanagawa, the three prefectures bordering the capital, and Osaka.

Under the state of emergency, restaurants and bars serving alcohol or offering karaoke services are asked to shut during the period while the government provides money for compliance.

Those not serving liquor are requested to close at 8 pm.

The restrictions were in force for months in Tokyo and other Japanese prefectures without any proper way to monitor the compliance in the absence of a legal mechanism.

“The key to controlling the spread of infections will be to avoid the risk in bars and restaurants,” said Suga.

He urged citizens to avoid going out unless it is necessary.

The surge in Covid-19 infections in Tokyo had stoked concerns over the Olympic Games as Japanese citizens have expressed their discontent over holding the sporting event.

Many Japanese had expressed concern that the Games could act as a super-spreader before the beginning of the event.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said the government was ?concerned? because the number of people in critical condition is increasing.

Public broadcaster NHK quoted her saying that over 2 percent of Covid-19 patients were above 65 years.

The governor insists that it is important for young people to get inoculated as soon as possible.

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