Panel chief speaks on emergency scope expansion

The chief of the advisory panel for the Japanese government's coronavirus response has suggested that expanding the scope of the state of emergency may be needed if infections spread further in areas other than the Greater Tokyo area.

Omi Shigeru spoke after a state of emergency was declared for Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures on Thursday.

Omi said it is impossible to put the virus under control across the country unless infections are curbed in the Greater Tokyo area first.

He said he believes intensive measures are necessary for the region at this point as the medical system is strained and more and more infected people are waiting to be hospitalized.

He said that if the infection situation in other areas such as the Kansai region reaches Stage Four, the highest alert level, it will be necessary to consider expanding the state of emergency.

Omi argued that it is important to continuously assess the extent of infections and the burdens on the medical care system every day.

He also spoke about how to designate areas subject to the state of emergency declaration. He pointed out that after the virus has spread in Tokyo, infection cases have also started increasing in neighboring areas.

He noted that in his view, when areas covered by the declaration are expanded, it is reasonable to add not one prefecture but a region including some prefectures.