Japan expands COVID-19 state of emergency

Japan's government has expanded the state of emergency to three more prefectures where daily coronavirus cases have been surging. The measure now covers nine prefectures. It will stay in place until May 31.

In northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido, the declaration took effect on Sunday. Asahiyama Zoo in Asahikawa city had far fewer visitors than on a usual weekend. The zoo will be closed from Monday.

As of Saturday, Hokkaido topped the list of prefectures in terms of number of cases per 100,000 people in the most recent week.

Hiroshima and Okayama were also added to the list. The governors held an online conference with nearby prefectures in the region.

They adopted a statement calling on residents to refrain from non-essential trips across prefectural borders.

A department store in Okayama city closed on Sunday except for a few floors. This was in response to a request from the prefectural authorities.

Reservations will start on Monday for inoculations at mass vaccination sites run by the government in Tokyo and Osaka. They're set to begin operating on May 24.
People aged 65 or older are eligible.

More than 5,200 new coronavirus cases were reported across Japan on Sunday, and 47 deaths were confirmed.