As COVID-19 Cases Surge, Tokyo Declares State of Emergency in Braces for Olympic

On Thursday, Japan announced a restricted state of emergency in the capital, Tokyo, and three adjacent prefectures to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, anticipating that infections would be wiped out this time by less strict curbs than imposed earlier.

The government said the one-month emergency in Tokyo and Saitama, Kanagawa, and Chiba prefectures will last from Friday to Feb. 7, affecting about 30 percent of the population of the region.

Restrictions will concentrate on fighting dissemination in bars and restaurants, which, according to the government, are key areas of risk.

The extent of the curbs is smaller than those implemented in 2020 April under an emergency that lasted until late May.

The curbs were nationwide at the time, and schools and non-essential industries were largely closed. Schools are not suspended at this time.

“The global pandemic has been a tougher one than we expected, but I’m hopeful we can overcome this,” Suga told a televised news conference.

“For this to happen, I must ask citizens to endure life with some restrictions.”

The government of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is working to minimize the harm to the third-largest economy in the world while trying to defeat the epidemic once and for all as it looks forward to the delayed summer Olympics.

With its count of positive tests jumping to 2,447 on Thursday, from a low of 1,591 the previous day, Tokyo has become a persistent concern. Japan has had 267,000 incidents and almost 3,000 casualties in total.

By the end of February, the authorities plan to launch a vaccine program.

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