TOKYO: Japan announced on Thursday 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 infections have slowed slightly, reports The Associated Press.
The current state of emergency, which was to end on Sunday, was issued first in Okinawa in May and gradually expanded. Despite the prolonged emergency, the largely voluntary measures have become less effective as the exhausted public increasingly ignores them.
The extension will cover a period when Japan’s government is in transition. Suga has announced that he will not run in a Sept. 29 race for his party’s leadership, and his successor in that race will likely become the next prime minister.
His government has faced sharp criticism over virus measures seen as too late and too small to be effective and for holding the 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 earlier Thursday. He said tens of thousands of people are still recovering at home or in makeshift facilities with limited medical care.