FILED - A sticker alters the Tokyo Games from 2020 to 2021 in the gym of German wrestler Frank Staebler. On Monday local organizers said the opening of the torch relay ahead of the Games would take place without spectators due to the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Marijan Murat/dpa
FILED - A sticker alters the Tokyo Games from 2020 to 2021 in the gym of German wrestler Frank Staebler. On Monday local organizers said the opening of the torch relay ahead of the Games would take place without spectators due to the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Marijan Murat/dpa

(dpa) – Japan is set to extend a semi-state of emergency over the Covid-19 pandemic to Tokyo and two other prefectures due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus, the government said on Friday.

Tokyo, which will host the Olympic Games in less than four months, confirmed more than 500 new infections on Thursday for the second straight day.

Japan adopted the measure in Osaka, Miyagi and Hyogo prefectures earlier this week. It is expected to come into effect in Tokyo, Kyoto and Okinawa on Monday.

Under the semi-state of emergency, bars and restaurants are asked to close by 8 pm (1100 GMT) and attendance at large events is limited to 5,000 people.

The move comes just three weeks after the government lifted a state of emergency in Tokyo and its neighbouring three prefectures which had been imposed in early January.

The roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines has been extremely slow since its launch in mid-February. Only 0.3 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated, according to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.

The western prefecture of Osaka declared a state of medical emergency on Wednesday as hospitals were overwhelmed by the pandemic

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Osaka reported 905 new cases on Thursday, marking the highest daily rise for the third day in a row.

The surge is attributed to more contagious variants of the coronavirus, Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura told a news conference.

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