Suga to consult experts on COVID emergency

Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide has indicated he will consult with the government's coronavirus advisory panel on whether to put more areas under a state of emergency.

Last Friday, the government expanded to 13 the number of prefectures under a coronavirus state of emergency, and the number of prefectures where focused anti-infection measures are imposed went up to 16. These measures will be in place through September 12.

The government is considering whether such restrictions should be extended to more prefectures, as the situation of coronavirus infections is worsening.

Suga discussed the matter with Economic Revitalization Minister Nishimura Yasutoshi, health minister Tamura Norihisa and other relevant ministers for about an hour on Tuesday after holding a similar meeting on Monday.

After Tuesday's meeting, Suga told reporters that he will refer the contents of their discussions to the government's advisory panel on Wednesday.

Suga also pledged to do all he can to protect people's lives. He cited steps including securing hospital beds and temporary medical care facilities as well as better communication between healthcare workers and patients staying at home.

He said these measures are important as is promoting use of neutralizing antibody drugs to prevent patients from becoming seriously ill.

Suga promised he will fully respond to curb the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.