Hokkaido to lift state of emergency over virus

Japan's northern prefecture of Hokkaido is to lift a state of emergency declared last month in response to the new coronavirus outbreak there.

Governor Naomichi Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday that the three-week emergency period will expire on the following day as planned. He announced the declaration on February 28.

Suzuki said he believes Hokkaido has avoided an explosive spread of infection that people feared would result in a collapse of medical services.

He called on people to refrain from going out if they are concerned about infection.

The governor stressed the need for the prefecture to establish a model of balancing efforts to contain the infection with social and economic activities.

He also expressed his intention to continue preparations for the marathon and race walk events of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. They are scheduled to be held in the northern prefecture.