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Japan extends COVID-19 emergency beyond Tokyo

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Japan has extended its COVID-19 state of emergency beyond Tokyo to seven provinces in the country in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.

The measure announced on Wednesday (Jan 13), takes effect at midnight.

These seven areas join Tokyo and three neighbouring prefectures, where the emergency came into force last Friday in the declaration that lasts until Feb 7.

To fight the surge in cases, Japan on Wednesday also enacted a blanket entry ban on all non-resident foreign nationals until Feb 7.

This covers the 11 regions with which Japan has established business track arrangements, including China, Singapore and South Korea.

“We need people to seriously rethink their actions, especially youth in their 20s or 30s who form the largest group of infections. Many may be asymptomatic and going out without realising they are spreading the virus,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.

“This is the reality that we face now,” he said, adding that it was critical to send a strong message in persuading people to change their behaviour.

The measure came as Japan registered at least 97 Covid-19 deaths on Wednesday, the highest single-day toll thus far.

The number of patients in serious condition rose to a new high of 900, while at least 5,845 fresh infections were logged nationwide.

Japan Medical Association President Toshio Nakagawa, in a separate news conference, said the government should not hesitate to consider a national emergency, noting that hospitals are already overburdened to the point of collapse.

Still, economy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, Japan’s point man for Covid-19 strategy, told Parliament that there was no plan to extend the emergency declaration nationwide.

On Wednesday, Japan crossed the 300,000 mark in total number of infections. It had taken 50 days for the tally to climb from 100,000 to 200,000, but just 23 days to surge past 300,000.


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