Japan to reimpose trade limitations due to new Covid-19 wave

Tokyo, Jan 6 (EFE).- Japan will soon impose limitations on business hours and other restrictions in several areas of the south and west of the country after a sharp increase in covid-19 cases, state media said Thursday.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was to discuss the matter Thursday, expecting to announce the decision to reactivate the Covid-19 alert and certain restrictions in Okinawa, Yamaguchi and Hiroshima prefectures as early as Friday after consulting with his committee of health advisers, according to NHK.

The prime minister said he would refrain from declaring a state of emergency and instead choose to activate a lower level of alert, which allows authorities to implement restrictions such as the limitation of business hours, among other measures.

The decision to resume certain restrictions more than two months after they were lifted across the country at the end of October, comes after a rapid increase in infections.

Okinawa registered 623 new cases Wednesday night, more than six hundred for the first time in four months, after US bases in the area became an epidemic focus that reached the population due to lax measures and the test regime adopted before the arrival of troops.

Thursday’s cases are estimated at about 980, Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki told reporters.

In Yamaguchi, where 104 cases were recorded Wednesday, the infections are mainly concentrated in the city of Iwakuni, home to an air base in the North American country.

The central government is also considering activating the alert in neighboring Hiroshima, where 138 new cases were recorded yesterday.

“Japan is seriously concerned about the spread in and around the bases,” Japanese government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno told a news conference. The foreign minister has called for the control to be intensified and the departures of personnel to be limited to minimize risks, he added.

Covid-19 measures in Japan, where mandatory confinement is not legal, have focused since the outbreak of the pandemic on cuts to the business hours of the hotel industry and the limitation of those attending events.

The central government would be considering whether to reactivate restrictions in other areas as well, including Tokyo, which yesterday had 390 cases, more than double the day before and its highest level in the last three months.

Throughout Japan, 2,638 cases were registered that day, over two thousand for the first time in more than two months, a rate of increase that has raised concern about what could be the sixth wave of covid in the archipelago amid the spread of the omicron variant in the territory. EFE


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