Tokyo (Associated Press)-On Wednesday, Japan extended the coronavirus emergency to seven other prefectures, and more than half of the population was affected by the surge in infection rates across the country.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshide Suga also stated that Japan will suspend fast-track entry exceptions for business travelers or others with residence permits, and will completely ban foreign travelers from entering when a state of emergency arrives.
Suga announced the news less than a week after he declared a state of emergency in Tokyo and the three nearby counties. This new declaration added seven prefectures in central and western Japan and went into effect on Thursday and is valid until February 7.
Suga bowed at a press conference. When he asked the public for help, he said: “The grim situation continues, but these measures are essential to reverse the situation.”
He said he put seven states in the city under a state of emergency to prevent the infection from spreading to smaller cities with weaker medical systems.
The government requires bars and restaurants in Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Fukuoka, Aichi, Gifu, and Toki prefectures to close before 8pm. Employers must allow 70% of employees to work at home. Residents in the disaster-affected areas please avoid unnecessary Go out for work purpose.
Sugar was criticized for being slow because the country’s reported coronavirus infections and deaths have roughly doubled in the past month to approximately 300,000 and 4,100, respectively. Only after local leaders pleaded with him to declare a state of emergency, the two states of emergency were declared.
Experts warn that even emergency declarations that are not binding and rely mainly on voluntary cooperation may not be enough to significantly slow down the rate of infection.
Unlike the seven-week emergency that occurred in Japan in April and May last year, schools, stadiums, theaters, and shops will remain open.
Suga has been criticized for not taking sufficiently strong government actions in the early stages of the outbreak. His interventions were mainly limited to requiring the public to take basic safety measures, such as wearing masks, washing hands, and avoiding drinking and eating in groups. It was not until mid-December that he finally announced the suspension of government-subsidized domestic tourism activities.
Suga finally took action after the local leader called, and his approval rate dropped sharply in the polls, indicating that the public is increasingly dissatisfied with his handling of the virus. He was also criticized for attending an expensive steak dinner, which had eight participants in mid-December.
Suga took office in mid-September and promised to control the infection while keeping the economy back on track. He also promised to successfully host the Tokyo Olympics, which was postponed from last year to this summer.
Despite the current surge in the number of infections, the number of infections reported by Japan is far less than many countries of the same size.
Japan did this through an earlier surge of infections without lockdown, but experts and officials warned that people are becoming more tired and uncooperative than before.
In order to implement the virus measures more effectively, Su He said that he will seek legal amendments from Congress next week to allow the authorities to penalize business owners who violate the official requirements for coronavirus measures, while legally providing compensation to those who comply with the regulations. Japanese media reported that the Suga government also plans to amend the infectious disease control law to impose fines on patients who violated self-isolation requirements, were hospitalized or cooperated with health authorities.
Toshio Nakagawa, president of the Japanese Medical Association, said at a news conference on Wednesday that Japan’s medical system has collapsed, and the daily treatment of many hospitals has been compromised due to the increase in the burden of coronavirus patients.
He said: “I am afraid that there will be explosive infections in the United States and Europe,” he urged people to cooperate and regain a sense of crisis and urgency.
Japan is already facing a possible collapse of the medical system because the treatment of the coronavirus is mainly concentrated in public hospitals in this country. Most hospitals in the country are privately operated and do not have equipment for infectious diseases. Suga said the situation should be reviewed.
The government provides financial support to hospitals that are hospitalized to receive coronavirus patients, and at the same time strives to increase the number of beds as infections increase.
Officials in Tokyo are facing a critical moment for hospitals to treat the coronavirus, and they are considering turning three county-level hospitals into centers for COVID-19 patients.
Japan’s coronavirus measures rely to a large extent on widespread mask wearing, contact tracing and other safety measures. However, due to the large number of new cases in the current outbreak, contact tracing is not possible, prompting Tokyo and neighboring counties to announce reductions in this strategy to reduce the burden on local public health officials.
Experts also raised concerns about the more contagious cases of the coronavirus spreading in the UK. Since late December, about 30 new variants have been discovered. Another variation was discovered this week among the four who arrived from Brazil.
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