Japan govt. discusses extending COVID emergency

The Japanese government is taking steps toward most likely extending the coronavirus state of emergency in some prefectures, including the greater Tokyo area.

The move comes ahead of the September 12 expiration of a state of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka and 19 other prefectures. Twelve further prefectures are also under intensive quasi-emergency measures until the same date.

Hiroshima Prefecture has asked the government to extend the state of emergency for the region.

Fukuoka Prefecture has also notified the government that lifting the emergency would be difficult, as despite a recent drop in cases, infection rates remain high.

Osaka Governor Yoshimura Hirofumi stressed that emergency measures should not be eased, due to ongoing hospital bed shortages in his prefecture.

Government officials have been discussing the extension as the number of seriously ill coronavirus patients remains high and the healthcare system has been strained, despite new daily infections declining.

Officials are also considering the use of quasi-emergency measures for prefectures where the state of emergency will be lifted.

Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide and related Cabinet members are expected to finalize their plans on Wednesday and consult an advisory panel of experts as early as Thursday.