Japan reports 4,539 new daily COVID-19 cases as emergency set to expand

Japan reports 4,539 new daily COVID-19 cases as emergency set to expand

Japan on Tuesday confirmed 4,539 new daily COVID-19 cases, bringing the nation's cumulative total to 298,172 infections, not including those related to a cruise ship quarantined in Yokohama last year, Trend reports citing Xinhua.

The latest figure comes as Japan may expand on Wednesday a state of emergency over the coronavirus to cover the western regions of Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures and the central Japan prefectures of Aichi and Gifu, government sources said.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told executives of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) that he intends to broaden the initial state of emergency that came into effect on Friday for Tokyo and its three neighboring prefectures of Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama, to cover the western areas.

Government sources were later quoted as saying that Aichi and Gifu prefectures will also be added to the expanded state of emergency, following requests from their governors.

Suga, pending final arrangements, is likely to declare a new state of emergency covering the five prefectures on Wednesday, government sources said.

The central government is also considering including Tochigi Prefecture, north of Tokyo, and the southwestern Japan prefecture of Fukuoka in the declaration, sources close to the matter have also been quoted as saying.

Osaka Prefecture has reported more than 3,800 new COVID-19 cases in the week through Monday, while Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures have also reported record-high daily figures as the virus' resurgence in western regions appears to show no signs of abating.

As for the prefectures that may soon be covered by the expanded state of emergency, Osaka confirmed 374 new cases on Tuesday, while Kyoto saw cases rise by 108. Hyogo Prefecture, for its part, saw its daily tally reach 161, according to the latest figures Tuesday evening.

Aichi added 132 new infections, while Gifu reported 35 new COVID-19 cases.

The Tokyo metropolitan government, meanwhile, reported 970 new daily COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, marking the first time since Jan. 4 the infection rate in the capital of 14 million has dropped below the 1,000-mark.

Tokyo, the hardest hit by the virus among Japan's 47 prefectures, now has a cumulative total of 77,133 infections.

Under the state of emergency, people in the affected areas will be asked to refrain from making unnecessary trips outdoors, and restaurants and bars requested to shorten their operating hours.

Other establishments like non-essential shops and departments stores may also be asked to shorten their working hours, in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Jan. 7 declared a state of emergency for Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba prefectures.

The emergency declaration, which came into effect a day later, will be kept in place until Feb. 7.

The previous state of emergency was declared in April last year in Tokyo and six other prefectures before being expanded nationwide and then lifted incrementally in May.

The national death toll from the virus has now reached a total of 4,192 people, Tuesday evening's figures showed.

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