• Kyodo


Hokkaido issued a new state of emergency declaration on Sunday, following one issued in late February, after seeing an increase in the pace of coronavirus infections.

In Tokyo, the total number of virus infections topped 2,000 as the capital and six prefectures experienced their first weekend under a state of emergency declared by the central government, with residents urged to refrain from nonessential outings and some businesses asked to shut.

On Sunday, 166 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in Tokyo, the metropolitan government said, bringing the total to 2,068. On Saturday, 197 new coronavirus cases were confirmed, a record daily increase for the fourth straight day.

In a bid to prevent a further escalation of the pandemic, on April 7 Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a monthlong state of emergency for Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama, Osaka, Hyogo and Fukuoka.

On Saturday, he extended his request to the governors of all 47 prefectures to ask their residents to refrain from visiting nightclubs, hostess bars and busy downtown spots in a push to prevent cluster infections.

While Hokkaido was not covered in the state’s declaration of an emergency, the prefectural government and the municipal government of Sapporo, the prefectural capital, issued a joint emergency declaration following reports of double-digit increases in infections for the fifth straight day.

“We are facing a crisis of a second wave in the spread of (the coronavirus) infections,” Hokkaido Gov. Naomichi Suzuki told reporters, asking residents to refrain from making nonessential outings.

Hokkaido had declared its own state of emergency on Feb. 28 ahead of the government and lifted it on March 19, citing signs that the coronavirus spread was abating in the prefecture, a popular area for both Japanese and foreign tourists.

Schools in Sapporo, which have gradually resumed classes since April 6, will be closed again from Tuesday to May 6. Residents of the prefecture are also asked not to travel to Sapporo or to the areas covered by the state’s declaration of emergency.

Chiba Gov. Kensaku Morita, meanwhile, said Sunday the prefecture will request cinema complexes and other entertainment facilities to be shut, effective midnight Monday, while refraining from urging restaurants and bars to cut business hours.

The governor was initially reluctant to close entertainment facilities but has decided to act in step with Tokyo and its neighboring prefectures of Kanagawa and Saitama, which are covered by the government’s state of emergency.

Nationwide, infection cases have risen to more than 8,000 including about 700 from the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship that was quarantined in February near Tokyo.

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