Japan to Expand, Extend COVID-19 State of Emergency as Daily Cases Top 10,000 for 1st Time
posted on by Rafael Antonio Pineda
The Japanese government notified the ruling party coalition on Thursday that it intends to expand the current state of emergency for the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to four more prefectures and extend its duration to August 31. This development comes as the nation reported 10,699 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday — the first time there were over 10,000 new cases in one day.
The state of emergency will expand to the prefectures of Osaka, Kanagawa, Saitama, and Chiba from August 2 to August 31. In addition, the current state of emergency in Tokyo and Okinawa will extend its end date from August 22 to August 31. Government experts expressed their concerns for a shortage of hospital beds, as new cases have increased at least 50% weekly this month, and they project this exponential growth will continue unless measures are taken.
Tokyo reported 3,865 new cases on Thursday, the third straight day of record daily highs and the second straight day over 3,000. Osaka reported 932 new cases on Thursday, the first time the daily count topped 900 since May 11. Kanagawa reported 1,164 new cases on Thursday, the second straight day of record daily highs and the second straight day over 1,000. Saitama reported 864 new cases on Thursday, the second straight day over 800 and the second highest daily count (after Wednesday's 870). Chiba reported 576 new cases on Thursday, the second straight day over 500 and the second highest daily count (after Wednesday's 577).
Kanagawa, Saitama, and Chiba revealed plans to ask for a state of emergency declaration from the national government on Wednesday.
Japan as a whole reported over 8,000 new cases in one day for the first time on Wednesday. The previous record was 7,957 on January 8. Tokyo reported 3,177 new cases on Wednesday, the first time the metropolis topped 3,000. The latest seven-day average of 1,954.7 is also a new record and 153% higher than the previous week.
Under the current state of emergency, the government requests events to limit attendance to 50% of capacity or 5,000 people, whichever is less, and to end by 9:00 p.m. The government also requests large facilities such as department stores and arcades to close by 8:00 p.m. and movie theaters to close by 9:00 p.m. — but not close completely as they did in some of the previous states of emergency. The government is offering payments in advance to dining and drinking establishments if they close by 8:00 p.m. and stop serving alcohol. (Previously, the payments came after an application process.)
The Tokyo Olympics held its opening ceremony on Friday last week, although some sports began their competitions last Wednesday, and some competitions are in prefectures outside Tokyo. Spectators are formally barred from Olympic events in all but three prefectures, but spectators still massed along the outdoor routes of some sports such as cycling and the triathlon.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has so far been reluctant to end the ongoing Tokyo Olympics despite the majority of Japanese citizens polled wanting them to cancel, delay, or modify the games. The games were already delayed from last year and rescheduled to July 23-August 8 this year.