Japan's governors want state of emergency extended

Japan is considering whether to heed calls to extend coronavirus emergency measures. Serious cases remain high and the medical system is feeling the pinch as the government struggles to ramp up a slow start to its vaccination program.

The government issued a state of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka, Hyogo and Kyoto one month ago.

It's since been expanded to cover ten prefectures. Most will expire at the end of the month, but not if prefectural leaders get their way.

The governor of Fukuoka says he's asked the central government to extend measures there.

Officials in Osaka plan to do the same and calls from its neighbors seem likely.

New cases in Osaka are declining, but tallies remain high.

Local officials say hospital beds set aside for serious cases are mostly full.

Osaka Governor Yoshimura Hirofumi said, "We've decided to request that the state of emergency declaration for our prefecture be extended, taking into account that we are still grappling with the spread of more transmissible variants and our medical system is under severe strain."

The health minister says tallies in Tokyo and Osaka haven't dropped far enough to consider lifting the declaration.
He says the government's final decision will be based on expert advice.

Japan is giving vaccine efforts a shot in the arm, by allowing more professionals to hand out inoculations.

Doctors, nurses and dentists are on the list. Paramedics and clinical technicians could be next.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato Katsunobu said, "We plan to ask for cooperation in a way that does not negatively affect systems for testing and emergency transportation."

Officials opened large-scale vaccination centers Monday, as part of a push to inoculate as many as 36 million seniors by the end of July.

But the situation hasn't improved enough for US experts who say even vaccinated Americans aren't safe traveling to Japan. The US State Department added Japan to a list of about 150 other countries and regions at its highest-possible warning.

The US Olympic and Paralympic Committee says this shouldn't affect its plans for the Tokyo Games.

The head of the Tokyo organizing committee agrees.

Hashimoto Seiko said, "I believe it doesn't affect the Games. We must ensure that it won't affect them."

Health authorities across Japan confirmed more than 3,900 new cases and 105 deaths on Tuesday.