Health

Japan prefectures want to lift emergency after Covid-19 infections decline

Tokyo, Feb 23 (efe-epa).- Three Japanese prefectures on Tuesday asked the central government to lift the state of emergency after a decline in the rate of new Covid-19 infections and serious hospitalized patients.

The state of emergency was declared in 10 of the country’s 47 prefectures in early January as the country struggled with a wave of new infections that strained Japan’s healthcare system.

The request to lift the restrictions was made by the Osaka, Hyogo, and Kyoto prefectures, among the country’s most populated.

The Japanese government resorted to the extraordinary measure, which in principle was to remain in effect until Mar. 7, to give regional authorities more power to contain the virus.

Now, the governors of Osaka, Hyogo, and Kyoto have asked Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of the government’s pandemic response, to lift the emergency in their prefectures before the scheduled date.

Nishimura said the government would take a decision this week based on the situation and the opinions of experts, public broadcaster NHK reported.

The state of emergency does not mean a 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 attendance at large events.

The number of infections throughout Japan has fallen since the second week of January when the state of emergency was declared due to record levels of cases registered in the third and largest wave of infections in the archipelago.

Daily new cases has remained below 2,000 for most of February after exceeding 7,000 just before the state of emergency was declared.

In addition to the three prefectures, a downward trend is also being observed in the Tokyo region, the worst affected by the pandemic in the country and where daily new infections have been below 1,000 since the end of last month.

Japan has recorded more than 426,000 Covid-19 infections, including 7,549 deaths, according to the latest available data. EFE-EPA

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