Japan extends virus emergency until end of September
Japan announced on Thursday that it is extending a coronavirus state of emergency in Tokyo and 18 other areas until the end of September as health care systems remain under severe strain, although new COVID-19 infections have slowed slightly. The current state of emergency, which was to end on Sunday, was issued first in Okinawa in May and gradually expanded.
Serious cases are still overwhelming many hospitals: Suga
Despite the prolonged emergency, the largely voluntary measures have become less effective as the exhausted public increasingly ignores them. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said that serious COVID-19 cases remain high and are still overwhelming many hospitals. He called on the people to continue to work remotely and follow social distancing measures so that the citizens can return to safe and prosperous daily lives.
Japan's government will be transitioning during the extension period
The extension will cover a period when Japan's government is in transition. Suga has announced that he will not run in a September 29 race for his party's leadership, and his successor in that race will likely become the next prime minister.
We need to stabilize medical systems: Minister
His government has faced sharp criticism over coronavirus measures seen as too late and too small to be effective and for holding the Tokyo Olympics despite public opposition during the pandemic. "We need to stabilize medical systems and make sure that infections are steadily decreasing," Economy and Fiscal Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who is in charge of COVID-19 measures, said on Thursday.
Around 49% Japanese citizens are fully vaccinated: Nishimura
"Tens of thousands of people are still recovering at home or in makeshift facilities with limited medical care. Meanwhile, as of now, about 49% of the people have completed inoculations and the rate is expected to exceed 60% by the end of September," Nishimura said.
Japan has reported 1.65mn COVID-19 cases so far
The officials said, "The government is studying a roadmap for easing restrictions around November when a large majority of the population is expected to be fully vaccinated. The easing of restrictions would allow fully vaccinated people to travel, gather for parties or attend mass events." Notably, Japan has reported about 1.65 million COVID-19 cases and 16,500 COVID-19-related deaths.