Japan likely to expand state of emergency

The Japanese government is expected to expand its state of emergency on Wednesday in an effort to counter a steep rise in coronavirus infections.

The declaration currently covers Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures. It went into effect last Friday and will remain in place until February 7.

The government is likely to include seven more prefectures in the measure -- Osaka, Hyogo, Kyoto, Aichi, Gifu, Fukuoka, and Tochigi. The duration of the declaration for those prefectures is expected to be the same as the one in effect now.

The government is planning to listen to experts' opinions at an advisory panel meeting on Wednesday afternoon before finalizing its plan.

Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide is expected to hold a news conference later in the day to explain the reasons for the expansion and ask for cooperation.

The state of emergency measure includes shortening business hours at restaurants and bars to 8 p.m., asking people to refrain from non-essential outings, and reducing the number of commuters by 70 percent by promoting telework. Attendance at various events will also be limited.