Decline in cases is 'key to lifting emergency'

Japan's health minister says a decision on lifting the state of emergency will ultimately depend on whether coronavirus cases have been reduced adequately.

The state of emergency in Tokyo, Osaka and seven other prefectures is set to expire at the end of the month.

Tamura Norihisa told reporters on Friday that in Tokyo and Osaka, new cases do not appear to be on a rising trend, but they are not dropping drastically either.

He said the decision on whether to lift the state of emergency will be made after studying various data including people traffic, hospital bed occupancy rates, and the rate of people who are testing positive.

Regulatory Reform Minister Kono Taro, who is in charge of the coronavirus vaccine rollout, recently said that pharmacists should be asked to give vaccination shots.

Tamura said that dentists are allowed to administer vaccinations because giving people injections is part of their job, but allowing pharmacists to do this will require studies on whether it is legal.

He revealed that the government will provide 30,000 yen, or about 280 dollars, for people who are licensed nurses but are currently not working if they decide to participate in the vaccination program.