Suga planning state of emergency for Tokyo area

Japan's government is planning to issue a state of emergency for a second time to contain rising coronavirus cases in Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures.

Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide said, "The number of new cases in Tokyo and the three prefectures accounts for about half of the national total. We take the situation seriously, and believe a stronger message is necessary."

Government officials plan to issue the declaration as soon as possible this week. It is likely to be in place for around a month.

A state of emergency gives prefectural governors the legal authority to urge residents to cooperate with antivirus efforts.

A woman in Tokyo said, "I've heard that the medical system is beginning to collapse. I think the decision is appropriate."

A man in the city said, "The government should have taken the step much earlier. There's a limit to what small businesses and individuals can do."

The governors of Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba prefectures had requested the move.

Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko said, "Tokyo and the three prefectures will work effectively and as one on measures on transportation, working from home and flexi-time."

The Tokyo government confirmed 884 new cases in the capital on Monday.

Officials say the number of seriously ill patients reached 108. The figure is the highest to date.

Frontline medical workers say they hope discussions on the state of emergency will prompt people to be more alert.

Professor Hasegawa Hiroshi of Kyorin University Hospital said, "At the very least, we need to curb infection clusters. If there is a surge in the number of infections, we may not be able to sufficiently deal with all the cases. I hope people will think about how to prevent infections once again."

The governors decided to urge residents to stay home as much as possible after 8 p.m. and ask bars and restaurants to close at that time.

A pub manager said, "Considering the coronavirus situation, I can understand that the government needs to take a drastic step. But it's really tough for us."

More than 3,200 cases were reported across Japan on Monday. Over 3,600 people have died since the pandemic began.