State of emergency extension seen as unavoidable

There is a growing view within the Japanese government that the coronavirus state of emergency may need to continue beyond its scheduled end date of May 31 for nine prefectures.

It has been a month since the country's third coronavirus state of emergency was initially declared for Tokyo and three western prefectures. The measure was later expanded to cover 10 prefectures with the addition of Okinawa on Sunday.

The declaration is set to expire at the end of May for all prefectures except Okinawa.

On Monday, Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide said that the government will study the infection situation and hear experts' opinions before making a decision on the nine prefectures at the end of the week.

A growing number of government officials think that infection rates are unlikely to improve sufficiently by the end of May.

Also, some say the government should do its best under the declaration to curb the spread of infections, especially that of a coronavirus variant that was first detected in India.

The government plans to carefully consider later this week the duration of a possible extension and further measures to handle the situation.

In Osaka, the prefectural government is holding a meeting on Tuesday to finalize its decision on whether to request that the declaration be extended for it.

Governor Yoshimura Hirofumi noted on Monday that over 300 patients are currently in serious condition and 90 percent of beds for seriously-ill patients are occupied.

Yoshimura said the decision on the request will be based not only on the number of infections but also on the situation of the medical system.