Japan extends Covid-19 emergency amid strain in healthcare system

By Maria Roldan

Tokyo, Feb 2 (efe-epa).- Japan on Tuesday extended the state of emergency until Mar.7 as the country struggles with Covid-19 infections that have strained its healthcare system even as the number of cases has declined.

“We are asking you to hang on for a little longer so that we can firmly establish a downtrend in infections,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told reporters.

“We need to continue reducing the number of new cases, as well as the number of seriously hospitalized patients.”

The government imposed the state of emergency in Tokyo and 10 of the 47 prefectures, including Osaka, Aichi, and Fukuoka, on Jan.7.

Tochigi will lift the emergency measure on Feb.7, because the health situation in the prefecture has improved significantly.

Suga earlier addressed the parliament to inform lawmakers about his government’s plan to extend the emergency.

“The nationwide number of new infections is falling, but we need to continue this and decrease the number of patients who are hospitalized or in serious condition,” Suga told lawmakers after a panel of experts approved the extension.

The state of emergency does not mean total lockdown, but the government has restricted people from unnecessary outings while restaurants and bars are closed early.

Businesses are encouraged to adopt remote working while the government has also capped the attendance at large events.

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