Japan extends state of emergency

Japan's government is extending 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.

Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide says new infections are declining across the country, but warns the number of serious cases remains high.

Suga said, "Experts say we should consider various factors when deciding whether to lift the emergency declaration. These include hospital occupancy rate, the number of seriously ill patients, the number of new cases, the number of people isolating at home, and the extent to which the vaccines are improving the situation. So we made our decision based on these points."

Suga stressed that the government would 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 are 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 customers. And major event venues have been told to restrict audiences.

Authorities across Japan confirmed more than 10,000 coronavirus infections on Thursday.