Japan Reportedly Considers COVID-19 Quasi-Emergency for Tokyo, 10 Other Prefectures

© REUTERS / STRINGERCommuters wearing protective face masks walk at a train station, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Tokyo
Commuters wearing protective face masks walk at a train station, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Tokyo - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.01.2022
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Japanese government is considering the request of 11 prefectures, including Tokyo, to place them under tougher COVID-19 restrictions as Omicron cases continue to grow, the Kyodo news agency reported on Monday, citing sources.
The prefectures of Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Gifu and Mie have already requested quasi-emergency status, while Aichi, Niigata, Kumamoto, Miyazaki and Nagasaki are expected to follow suit, according to the report.
The government may make the decision on Wednesday and impose enhanced restrictions for about three weeks, a government source was cited as saying.
A quasi-emergency in Japan empowers local authorities to limit the hours of operation of restaurants and liquor sales, as well as non-essential travel to other regions.
On 7 January, the Japanese government declared a quasi-state of emergency in the Okinawa, Yamaguchi and Hiroshima prefectures, which will remain in effect until 31 January.
On Monday, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the government will need to restrain people's movement, in the event existing anti-pandemic efforts fail to avert the spread of the coronavirus.
Japan is currently facing another surge in COVID-19 cases nationwide, with the daily incidence reaching 25,483 cases Monday, a dramatic increase compared to only 500 cases registered per day in early January. The Omicron variant is estimated to account for 96.8% of all new infections.
Tokyo alone detected 4,172 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, with hospital bed occupancy rate amounting to 19.3%. Its government expects the daily number of cases to exceed 10,000 this week.
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