Tokyo, Sep 9 (EFE).- Japan on Thursday announced another extension of the state of emergency over Covid-19, imposed in the country’s most populated areas, until the end of the month as hospitals continue to remain under pressure despite a recent drop in infections.
The emergency, currently in effect in 21 of the 47 prefectures of the country, was set to end on Sunday, but the government decided to extend it until Sep. 30 in 19 provinces.
These provinces include Tokyo and its surrounding areas, Hokkaido, Osaka, Aichi and Fukuoka, according to an announcement by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
Suga stressed that the health system needed to be strengthened to regain normalcy and ensure patients’ access to treatment, while urging companies to support work-from-home.
He also appealed to the hospitality sector to tolerate the restrictions.
Suga is set to hold a press conference on Thursday evening to provide further details of the decision.
Hours earlier, the minister in charge of Covid management, Yasutoshi Nishimura, had warned that the medical system of the affected areas continued to face a difficult situation.
Nishimura was speaking at a meeting with an expert committee that advises the government over the pandemic.
The measure is aimed at reducing people’s movement ahead of some festivals at the end of the month
The state of emergency in Japan does not include a lockdown, but people have been urged to go out as little as possible, avoid gatherings and work from home if allowed.
The restrictions mainly affect bars, restaurants and karaoke bars, which have been asked to not serve alcoholic beverages, while closing hours have been brought forward to 8 pm.
The number of attendees in large events has been limited to half of the venue’s capacity with a cap of 5,000 people.
Despite the state of emergency being extended, Japanese authorities have outlined a roadmap for easing restrictions which they hope to implement from November, when the majority of the population is expected to be vaccinated.
More than 62.5 million people – 49.4 percent of the Japanese population – have received both doses of the vaccines approved in the country, according to latest figures by the health department.
The government expects to inoculate all eligible citizens who have opted for vaccination by October or November, Suga said. EFE