Virus situation 'improving in emergency areas'

Japan's health minister Tamura Norihisa says the coronavirus situation is improving in most of the prefectures that are under the state of emergency.

He indicated that a decision on whether to extend the declaration beyond the end of this month will be made when Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide returns from the United States.

Nineteen prefectures, including Tokyo and Osaka, are covered by the state of emergency that is due to expire next Thursday.

Tamura told reporters on Friday it is certain that the number of coronavirus infections is dramatically decreasing.
He added that if this trend continues, he expects most of the affected areas will be close to meeting the criteria for lifting the declaration next Thursday.

Tamura also referred to the issue of whether less strict anti-virus measures will be applied to these areas if the declaration is lifted.

He said decisions will have to be made for each area after monitoring the hospital bed occupancy ratio and other indicators, and consulting local governments.