Tokyo, Feb 1 (efe-epa).- The government of Japan is planning to extend the state of emergency imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in several regions of the country where the rate of new infections is high and is overwhelming their hospitals.
The minister in-charge of the official response to Covid-19, Yasutoshi Nishimura, told a parliamentary committee that the government was confirming the situation of infections and health systems with local authorities.
The government will soon convene a meeting of its panel of experts to get their opinion and take a decision, he added.
Top government spokesperson Katsunobu Kato also reiterated the government’s plans to extend the state of emergency at his daily press briefing.
Although neither of the officials said when the state of emergency would be extended, public broadcaster NHK and local news agency Kyodo have reported that it will be done on Tuesday, citing government sources.
The second state of emergency was imposed on Jan. 8 until Feb. 7 in 11 of the country’s 47 prefectures, including Tokyo, where over half the country’s population lives.
The emergency could be extended in several regions including Tokyo, Chiba, Saitama and Osaka, but could be lifted in others as scheduled, according to government officials.
Although there was a downward trend in cases during last week, the level of infections remains high and health systems are being overwhelmed, according to Dr. Shigeru Omi, one of the Japanese government’s top advisers on the pandemic.
One of the biggest concerns is the increased proportion of elderly patients, who are at increased risk of developing severe symptoms.
The emergency measure does not legally obligate Japanese residents to remain at home but recommends that all but essential trips outside the household be avoided. Bars, restaurants and shops must now all close by 8 pm.
Until Sunday, Japan had recorded a total of 389,518 coronavirus cases, including 5,722 deaths.
January 2021 proved to be the deadliest month of the pandemic for the Asian country. Around 40 percent of deaths due to the virus were registered in this month. EFE-EPA