Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government is expected to place more prefectures under a near-state of emergency over COVID-19 as the number of cases continues to rise, government sources said on Sunday.
The decision, which is likely to be formalized on Tuesday, may make 32 of the country’s 47 prefectures subject to restrictions, such as reduced hours in restaurants and bars. While the measures are already in place in 16 prefectures, including Tokyo, a further 16 prefectures, including Hokkaido, Kyoto and Osaka, have applied or plan to apply for their regions to be included.
On Sunday, daily confirmed coronavirus cases in Japan reached more than 50,000, the second largest on record after some 54,500 on Saturday.
In Tokyo, the number of people recovering at home after being infected with the virus rose to 26,556, a record. Newly confirmed daily cases reached 9,468, down from Saturday’s all-time high of more than 11,000 but still the largest for any Sunday.
Tokyo and 12 other prefectures were added to the regions subject to the quasi-emergency measures on Friday after three prefectures – Hiroshima, Yamaguchi and Okinawa – were included under the January 9 measures following a spike in infections that officials premises linked to nearby US military bases.
The restrictions were scheduled to last until the end of this month in all three prefectures, but the government is considering extending the period, the sources said.
The COVID-19 restrictions are scheduled to be in effect until February 13 in Tokyo and all 12 prefectures, including Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Aichi, Nagasaki, and Kumamoto.
Japan has seen a rapid increase in the number of cases of the virus since the country confirmed its first case of the Omicron variant on November 30. 534 logged in on January 1.