Japan plans to extend the current state of emergency in Tokyo and three western prefectures, the government said, as the regions have struggled to rein in a fourth wave of coronavirus infections.
On Friday Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was set to announce the 20-day extension in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo through May 31, less than two months before the start of the postponed Olympics in the Japanese capital.
The government was also set to expand the measure to the prefectures of Aichi and Fukuoka, Economic Revitalization Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said at a meeting with a panel of experts.
Last month, the government declared the state of emergency in the four prefectures from April 25 to May 11, requesting bars and restaurants refrain from serving alcohol and offering a karaoke service.
Experts warned of the rapid spread of more transmissible variants of the virus, while less than 1 per cent of the country’s 125 million population has been fully vaccinated since the beginning of the vaccination effort in mid-February.
On Thursday Japan confirmed 4,375 new infections, including 591 in Tokyo and 747 in Osaka.
The country has so far reported more than 620,000 cases and some 10,600 Covid-19 related deaths, by far the highest number in East Asia.