January 28, 2023

Japan expands virus emergency ahead of Tokyo Olympics

TOKYO — Japan on Friday further expanded a coronavirus state of emergency from six areas, including Tokyo, to nine, as Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga repeated his determination to hold the Olympics in just over two months.

Japan has been struggling to slow infections ahead of the games. The three additions are Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, where the Olympic marathon will be held, and Hiroshima and Okayama in western Japan.

Despite the worsening infections, Suga stressed his commitment to holding the games safely and securely while protecting Japanese by strictly controlling the movements of foreign participants, including possibly expelling journalists covering the event if they defy regulations.

“I understand there are various difficulties, but the priority is to stop the further spread of infections and protect the people’s lives and health,” Suga said.

The three additional areas will join Tokyo, Osaka and four other prefectures already under the emergency coronavirus restrictions through May 31, Suga announced at a government taskforce meeting Friday. Bars, karaoke parlors and most entertainment facilities are required to close. Business owners who comply will be compensated; those who don’t could face fines.

“Infections are escalating extremely rapidly in populated areas,” Suga said. “As new variants continue to spread, we judged that now is a very important time to stop the further spread of infections.”

It was the second expansion of the emergency in just one week. Suga declared a state of emergency — Japan’s third — in four prefectures including Tokyo and Osaka starting April 25, then expanded it to six prefectures last Friday. Despite the emergency measures, infections are continuing to spread in wider areas of Japan instead of slowing.

Suga said he will decide on a possible further extension by evaluating the virus situation at the end of May.

His government is under heavy pressure from the public, increasingly frustrated by a slow vaccine rollout and repeated emergency declarations. Many now oppose hosting the July 23-Aug. 8 Olympics, and people appear to be less cooperative with non-compulsory stay-at-home and social-distancing requests.

Less than 2% of the public has been fully vaccinated.

The expansion of the state of emergency is a major shift from the government’s initial plan that relied on less stringent measures.

The addition of Hiroshima to the areas covered by the emergency measures comes just days after Japanese organizers announced that a visit next week by International Olympic Committee Chairman Thomas Bach to mark the Hiroshima leg of the torch relay has been canceled.

Earlier Friday, organizers of a petition demanding the cancellation of the Olympics submitted more than 350,000 signatures to Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike that were collected since early May. The petition says money spent on the games would be better used on people in financial need because of the pandemic.

On Thursday, Japan reported 6,800 new coronavirus cases, increasing its total to 665,547 with 11,255 deaths.

in Health
Related Posts

Crowds gather at Stonehenge for summer solstice despite COVID concerns

June 21, 2021

June 21, 2021

LONDON (AP) — Dozens of people have ignored advice not to travel to Stonehenge for the annual summer solstice celebrations,...

The ‘grief pandemic’ will torment Americans for years

June 2, 2021

June 2, 2021

Cassandra Rollins’ daughter was still conscious when the ambulance took her away. Shalondra Rollins, 38, was struggling to breathe as...

U.S. to buy 500 million Pfizer vaccines to share with other countries

June 9, 2021

June 9, 2021

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. will buy 500 million more doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to share through the...

CDC clears the way for Pfizer COVID vaccine for kids 5 to 11

November 3, 2021

November 3, 2021

U.S. health officials on Tuesday gave the final signoff to Pfizer’s kid-size COVID-19 shot, a milestone that opens a major...

Examining the American Medical Association’s racist history and its overdue reckoning

May 18, 2021

May 18, 2021

The national calls to action over racial justice have brought new awareness of past injustices in many parts of our...

Science chief wants next pandemic vaccine ready in 100 days

June 2, 2021

June 2, 2021

The new White House science adviser wants to have a vaccine ready to fight the next pandemic in just about...

G-7 nations gather to pledge 1 billion vaccine doses for world

June 11, 2021

June 11, 2021

CARBIS BAY, England (AP) — Leaders from the Group of Seven industrialized nations are set to commit at their summit...

How to plan a COVID-safe 4th of July

July 1, 2021

July 1, 2021

The Fourth of July is around the corner, but the United States isn’t quite ready to declare its independence from...

The pandemic is leading doctors to rethink unnecessary treatment

May 27, 2021

May 27, 2021

On one hand, the pandemic caused major health setbacks for non-COVID patients who were forced to, or chose to, avoid...

Ex-Wisconsin pharmacist gets prison for ruining COVID-19 vaccine doses

June 9, 2021

June 9, 2021

MILWAUKEE (AP) — A former pharmacist in Wisconsin who purposefully ruined more than 500 doses of COVID-19 vaccine was sentenced...

Why Black women face a triple threat from breast cancer

June 3, 2021

June 3, 2021

Lorna Baldwin is an Emmy and Peabody award winning producer at the PBS NewsHour. In her two decades at the...

Can schools require COVID-19 vaccines for students 12 and up?

May 17, 2021

May 17, 2021

With the first COVID-19 vaccine now authorized for adolescents, ages 12 and up, a big question looms: Will students be...

WATCH: Kamala Harris delivers remarks on COVID vaccination effort

June 18, 2021

June 18, 2021

Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Atlanta on Friday to tour a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination site at Ebenezer Baptist Church,...

UK health minister resigns after breaching coronavirus rules

June 26, 2021

June 26, 2021

LONDON — U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who has led the country’s response to the coronavirus, resigned Saturday, a day...

A Brief But Spectacular take on breaking the script in healthcare

June 7, 2021

June 7, 2021

Judy Woodruff: Carey Candrian is a Colorado-based social scientist. She’s spent much of her career investigating how health care can...