Japan extends coronavirus state of emergency

The Japanese government has officially decided to extend the coronavirus state of emergency in many parts of the country.

It will remain in place for 19 prefectures including Tokyo and Osaka until the end of September. On Thursday, Japan's Prime Minister explained his decision.

Suga Yoshihide said, "In order to overcome the current crisis and go back to our normal lives with a sense of security and more activity, we will reinforce the medical system and prevent serious cases by using medications and vaccines."

He stressed that the government will finish giving shots to everyone who wants them in October or November.
He added the government plans to ease restrictions, using a system that checks vaccination certificates or negative test results.

The state of emergency is currently in place for 21 prefectures and was set to run through Sunday.

Under the new plan, Miyagi and Okayama prefectures will shift to less strict quasi-emergency measures.

The minister in charge of the coronavirus response says the medical system remains strained in most areas under the state of emergency.

The health ministry says there are nearly 2,200 COVID-19 patients across Japan who are in serious condition.
Officials say they're focused on bolstering the medical system and making sure new cases will keep declining.

Japan's state of emergency is less rigid than lockdowns in other countries.

The government calls on people to avoid crowds and work from home as much as possible.

It urges bars and restaurants not to serve alcohol and to close early. Department stores and shopping malls are asked to limit the number of customers. And the capacity of venues for major events is capped.