Japan rules out another state of emergency despite record COVID-19 cases

Tokyo, Jul 30 (efe-epa).- The government of Japan on Thursday ruled out the possibility of re-declaring a state of emergency despite a new daily record of cases of coronavirus, which is spreading dangerously across the country.

In the last 24 hours, a total of 1,264 new infections were recorded, the first time there have been more than 1,000 cases in a day since the novel coronavirus arrived in Japan on Jan. 16, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Health.

Of these new cases, 250 were in Tokyo, below the daily record of 366 infections recorded on Jul. 23, but in Osaka, the country’s second largest city, 221 people were infected with the virus, the first time the figure has crossed 200.

COVID-19 even arrived in Iwate prefecture, in the north of the country, when two middle-aged men were reported to have tested positive for the virus on Wednesday.

Until now, Iwate had been the only one of the 47 prefectures in Japan without a single confirmed case.

When asked about this development in the spread of the epidemic on Thursday, the Japanese government’s top spokesperson, Yoshihide Suga, rejected the idea of resorting to a state of emergency, which was in force in Japan between Apr. 7 and May 25.

Suga said in his daily press briefing that this was not the time for the state of emergency and the total paralysis of economic activity.

The state of emergency that was in effect in Japan did not place citizens under lockdown but involved the closure of shopping malls and other confined or crowded spaces along with appeals from the authorities for people to work from home.

These restrictions have gradually been lifted, and even the partial entry of fans into football and baseball stadiums is being allowed, with limited capacity.

The government spokesperson stressed the importance of taking extreme precautions in public places to prevent a spread of infections and said that many of the new cases are being recorded among young people, who are getting infected in nightclubs and bars.

But other political leaders, such as the governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, believe that it has to go further, and, according to leaks echoed by the public television channel NHK, Yuriko would ask restaurants and karaoke bars to reduce their operating hours to avoid a propagation of COVID-19 amid the capital’s intense nightlife.

“I want people to avoid going out to the nightlife areas and also avoid eatin in public places with the presence of many people,” Koike said Thursday.

This new data emerges days after an official campaign to promote domestic tourism began, with subsidies on hotel prices and public transport tickets, an initiative that went ahead despite experts’ fears that the move could prolong the pandemic. EFE-EPA


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