Expert proposes stronger virus steps for Osaka

The head of the Japanese government's panel of experts on the coronavirus has proposed applying special measures to Osaka Prefecture, allowing officials there to take stronger steps to curb the spread of infection.

Omi Shigeru told a Lower House committee meeting on Wednesday that Osaka is nearing stage 4 -- the highest alert level. He added that the strain on the local medical system is steadily increasing.

Omi said there is almost no doubt that the virus has rapidly spread among young people, including teenagers, who have dined out during their spring break.

He noted that the Osaka government is continuing to ask restaurants to shorten their hours.

Omi added that he thinks now is the time for the central government to apply special measures to the prefecture.

The measures, set by revised antivirus legislation, enable prefectural governors to take focused steps even if a state of emergency is not in place.

The Osaka government is planning to hold a task force meeting on Wednesday night to decide whether to ask the central government to apply the special measures to the prefecture.