The Japanese government is moving toward declaring a state of emergency for another three prefectures in western Japan as early as this week. Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures are already subject to the measure.
Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide discussed the matter with Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato Katsunobu and the minister in charge of coronavirus response, Nishimura Yasutoshi, on Monday.
They agreed to move ahead with arrangements for issuing another declaration, while hearing from experts.
The meeting came after the governors of Osaka, Hyogo and Kyoto on Saturday requested that the central government expand its state of emergency to cover their region.
Suga said on an NHK program on Sunday that he is aware of the current critical situation and that the government is ready to respond whenever needed.
The government is also expected to consider including two central prefectures, Aichi and Gifu, under the measure. The two governors are planning to make a request as early as Tuesday.
Earlier on Monday, Suga met with healthcare workers from Kanagawa and Tochigi prefectures.
Dr. Ogura Takayuki from Saiseikai Utsunomiya Hospital in Tochigi told reporters that the number of elderly coronavirus patients is increasing in suburban areas. He said many are being hospitalized or becoming seriously ill.
The doctor noted that he has told the prime minister of this serious situation.