Japan: Set to Extend Virus Emergency by a Month Until March 7

Tokyo: Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is set to extend a state of emergency covering Japan’s major metropolitan areas to March 7, seeking to control Covid-19 after infections hit record highs in Tokyo and other regions about a month ago.

Suga was expected to formally make the extension later in the day after hearing from the panel, Kyodo News and other local media reported.

The current emergency measure has been in effect since early January for 11 areas, including Tokyo and Osaka, that account for about 60% of the economy’s total output. It calls for residents to avoid going out after 8:00 p.m., while bars and restaurants have been asked to voluntarily close at that time. The extended emergency period will apply to 10 prefectures including Osaka, Aichi, and Fukuoka.

“The number of infected people is falling but I think caution is still needed for a while,” Suga told reporters on Monday evening. The extension will put more pressure on the economy.

The two-month emergency is likely to slice around 3 trillion yen ($28.6 billion) of gross domestic product. Following an expert panel approving the one-month extension, Japan’s premiere announced the move in parliament, with the decision to be finalized later in the day by the government’s expert coronavirus task force.

Although, Japan reported 1,792 new COVID-19 infections on Monday evening, bringing the nation’s tally of cases to almost 400,000, with the death toll approaching 6,000.

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