The Japanese government plans to expand the state of emergency it declared for the Tokyo area last week to seven additional prefectures on Wednesday in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19, public broadcaster NHK reported.
The measure, announced yesterday, took effect at midnight. This is despite the ever-present coronavirus impact, which included a state of emergency being declared just last week in the host city of Tokyo, Japan. It was later expanded to cover the whole country before being lifted in late May.
Among the new cases, people in their 20s made up the largest group at 394, followed by 275 for people in their 30s and 202 among people in their 40s.
The number of patients in serious condition rose to a new high of 900, while at least 5,845 fresh infections were logged nationwide.
Gifu and Aichi are also poised to be added the list of areas under the stricter measures as the coronavirus situation worsens in Japan.More news: Former non-leaguer Ashley Nadesan toasts FA Cup after shocking Leeds
A key countermeasure under the declaration centers on restricting restaurants' operating hours, urging them to close by 8 p.m.
The cumulative number of infections in the capital stood at 78,566.
The latest emergency declaration covering 55% of Japan's population of 126 million is set to last through February 7 and is much narrower in scope than the first one last spring. Local leaders said the moves were necessary to emphasise the health risks.
A recent Kyodo News survey has found around 80 per cent of Japanese people want this year's Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo to be cancelled or postponed.
Japan has been relying on people to exercise social responsibility since the pandemic began.More news: Did YouTube Bar Trump From Posting New Videos to His Channel?
In a bid to more effectively enforce virus measures, Suga has said he will seek a legal revision in parliament next week to allow authorities to penalize business owners who defy official requests for coronavirus measures, while legally providing compensation to those who comply.
Among the measures being planned are penalties for confirmed Covid-19 patients who refuse to be hospitalised, punishments for those who lie or refuse to answer questions pertaining to epidemiological investigations, and fines for businesses that refuse to heed requested curfews.
Japan initially managed to avoid the kind of explosion in coronavirus cases seen in countries such as the United States, but infections have risen steadily.
Mindful of the inevitable economic impact, Mr Suga is hesitant to impose blanket measures under the latest state of emergency.More news: Saved By The Bell Vet Dustin Diamond Has Been Hospitalized