Record Covid infection numbers in Japan ahead of state of emergency

Tokyo, Jan 6 (efe-epa).- Japan reported more than 5,000 new daily Covid-19 infections for the first time on Wednesday, the majority of which were in Tokyo, which is also seeing record levels of infections.

The central government is finalizing the declaration of a new state of health emergency amid the spiralling contagion.

The number of daily infections in the capital rose on Wednesday to 1,591, 254 cases more than the previous record set on December 31, cementing the upward trend of infections in Tokyo, which makes up around a quarter of the nearly 260,000 infections accumulated nationally.

Some 5,307 new cases were reported across the archipelago on Wednesday, the first tally above 5,000 since the start of the pandemic, according to statistics released by the state-run NHK. Several other prefectures also reported record local highs.

The figures were revealed as the central government moves forward with preparations to declare a state of health emergency in the capital city and three other neighboring prefectures, which have been hardest hit by the third wave of infections in Japan since mid-November.

The state of emergency is an extraordinary legislative provision that gives regional governments the power to take actions such as closing schools and public spaces or asking shops to shorten their opening hours.

The government plans to declare the emergency in the four prefectures near the capital on Thursday for a period of one month, once it completes consultations with a committee of health experts and outlines the measures to the Diet, Japan’s parliament.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Monday that he is hoping to apply the emergency measure in a more “limited” way than the one that was in effect throughout the country last spring to deal with the first wave of the pandemic.

The new restrictions will likely consist mainly of limiting the hours of bars and restaurants, which health authorities see as the main focus of the third wave of contagion, in addition to promoting remote working and reducing non-essential travel.

The new state of emergency, as well as the one that was applied between last April and May, does not include the compulsory lockdown of the population, since the Japanese legal framework does not contain provisions to impose that measure. EFE-EPA

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