Japan to expand Covid emergency to seven more prefectures

With the Covid-19 pandemic worsening in areas of Japan beyond the capital, the government is expected to extend the nation’s second state of emergency on Wednesday to cover seven more prefectures, officials said.

The Covid-related emergency is set to be expanded to Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures in the Kansai region, as well as Aichi and Gifu prefectures, The Japan Times reported citing officials.

Media reports also said Tochigi and Fukuoka prefectures would be brought under the declaration, too, after they called on the central government on Tuesday to expand the state of emergency there.

Speaking at a meeting of Liberal Democratic Party executives on Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the government was preparing to extend its emergency declaration to Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo. The governors of the three prefectures in the Kansai region asked the central government last week to declare a state of emergency for the region, following a rise in novel coronavirus cases and a growing shortage of hospital beds.

A government source later said that Gifu and Aichi prefectures would be added to the emergency declaration, as well.

“Beginning with Osaka, we’ll look at the situation in prefectures where the situation is serious and, after consulting experts, promptly decide on (whether to declare) a state of emergency,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, the government spokesperson, told reporters after the meeting.

As cases continue to rise nationwide and local medical facilities come under increasing strain, other prefectures, including Kumamoto, are also considering whether to issue a similar request to the central government.