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[Japan] Govt talks on extending the state of emergency grow


Government discussions are growing stronger in favor of extending the state of emergency, declared to deal with the novel coronavirus, past its Feb. 7 deadline.

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Reasons include a decrease in the number of new virus infections in the targeted areas is limited and measures, such as refraining from leaving home, will need to continue in the weeks to come.

An extension of about one month has been proposed.

The government has said the decision to lift the declaration will be made when six indicators of the status of the infection — including the number of new cases and the hospital bed occupancy rate — drop from the most serious level of Stage 4 down to Stage 3.

In Tokyo, for instance, the threshold is 500 new infections per day — the number of cases on Monday was 618. However, at meeting of the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives the same day, Yasutoshi Nishimura (the minister in charge of economic revitalization), said that figure would be used as a guidline.

“It does not mean that we will immediately lift [the declaration] just because the number of infections falls below 500 per day.”

He stressed his intention to carefully and comprehensively evaluate the indicators.

It is said it will take time to impact the turnover rate for hospital beds and recovery time it takes for the treatment of patients, both requiring comparatively longer than the time it takes for new infections to decrease. That has created a strong sense of caution within the government.

“It would be meaningless to lift the declaration if the situation with infections worsens again,” a Cabinet Secretariat official said.

Some experts are of the opinion the government should not lift the ban unless there is a prospect of lowering the level of the contagion to Stage 2.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga stressed at the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives that “this is an important phase that must be handled with a sense of urgency.”

When the state of emergency was declared in April and May of last year, its duration was extended for 25 days for all prefectures. The government plans to have experts complete an assessment of the situation by the end of the week.

In line with the continued declaration, the government plans to maintain the nationwide temporary suspension of the Go To Travel program.

To avoid the spread of the contagion, the government will continue to call for thorough infection prevention measures and ask the public to refrain from unnecessary movements outside the home.

 

Published : January 27, 2021

By : The Japan News/ANN