Suga to decide state of emergency extension several days before expiration

Suga to decide state of emergency extension several days before expiration

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday he expects to decide whether to extend the state of emergency covering Tokyo and other parts of Japan struggling to stem the spread of the coronavirus several days before it is set to end on Feb. 7.

Speaking at a parliamentary committee, Suga said the timing of the decision had to strike the right balance — too early, and health experts would not be able to examine the latest data, too late, and people would be caught off guard.

The comments came as a growing number of people in his administration and his ruling Liberal Democratic Party believe an extension is inevitable.

According to sources familiar with the matter, one option being floated is to keep the state of emergency, under which the public is urged to refrain from going outside unnecessarily while restaurants and bars are asked to shorten their opening hours, until the end of February.

READ MORE  Gophers, Illini Square Off Looking For First Win Of Season

The state of emergency covers 11 of Japan’s 47 prefectures — Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama, Tochigi, Aichi, Gifu, Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo and Fukuoka — covering more than half of the country’s population and around 60% of its economy.

Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of Japan’s coronavirus response, said at the meeting of the House of Councilors’ Budget Committee that the situation improving from Stage 4, the worst level on the government’s four-point scale, to Stage 3 would not immediately warrant lifting the state of emergency.

“We will make a decision based on a comprehensive assessment of the situation,” he said.

The stages are based on six key indicators, including the weekly number of infections per 100,000 people and the percentage of hospital beds for COVID-19 patients currently available.

READ MORE  Nursing home residents, including couple married for 55 years, share COVID-19 survival stories

Tokyo, which is set to host the Olympics and Paralympics in six months, reported Wednesday 973 new daily coronavirus infection cases, with the count showing a downward trend in recent days.

The capital has seen four-digit increases almost every day since entering January, but Wednesday’s figure stayed below the 1,000 mark for the third time since Sunday. Its cumulative cases now stand at 96,507.

However, as the number of patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms still hovers at around 150, Tokyo faces the risk of a medical system collapse. There has also been an increase in people dying at home due to a lack of available hospital beds.

Health experts have warned that rushing to lift the state of emergency too soon would quickly lead to a resurgence in coronavirus cases.

READ MORE  Rural health departments ready to “shift on the fly” through vaccine rollout

Asked by opposition lawmaker Renho whether there was any scientific data backing up his promise to improve the situation by the Feb. 7 end date, Suga said the pledge was a sign of his “strong determination” to stem the spread of the coronavirus and that it would have been inappropriate to speak of an extension too soon.

Public support for Suga, who took office in September, is dwindling due to what has been criticized as a sluggish pandemic response. A Kyodo News poll conducted this month showed his Cabinet’s approval rating at 41.3%, down 9 percentage points from December.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

PHOTO GALLERY (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Source link

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*