• Jiji, Kyodo


Okinawa Prefecture has issued its own emergency declaration over the novel coronavirus and plans to ask the central government to be included in a wider emergency measure already covering several prefectures.

The local state of emergency, which took effect on Wednesday, will be in place until Feb. 7, with the Okinawa Prefectural Government calling on residents to refrain from going out for nonessential reasons. The move was announced by Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki on Tuesday.

"Medical resources in Okinawa, an island prefecture, are limited," Tamaki told a news conference. "The local medical system is on the verge of collapse."

Under the local measure, bars and restaurants in all municipalities in Okinawa will be asked to end daily operations by 8 p.m. between Friday and Feb. 7. Compliant businesses will receive ¥680,000 in aid.

Okinawa residents are asked to avoid nonessential travel to remote islands in the prefecture, as well as to the prefectures under the central government's state of emergency and areas covered by the local emergency declarations.

In Okinawa, the daily number of newly confirmed coronavirus cases topped 100 on Saturday and Tuesday, reaching 130 and 113, respectively.

The occupancy rate for hospital beds for severely ill coronavirus patients in the prefecture has risen to 66.7%.

The central government's fresh state of emergency, slated to remain effective until Feb. 7, covers 11 of the country's 47 prefectures — Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Tochigi, Aichi, Gifu, Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo and Fukuoka.

Among other prefectures, Ibaraki, Mie, Kumamoto and Miyazaki have issued their own coronavirus emergency declarations. Nagasaki Prefecture declared a state of emergency for the city of Nagasaki on Saturday.

The Shizuoka Prefectural Government also issued a virus emergency alert Tuesday, a day after three cases of infection with a new coronavirus variant were confirmed.

Shizuoka Gov. Heita Kawakatsu announced the alert at a news conference, saying that while the prefectural government still lacked information on the spread of the new variant, "It is necessary to take more thorough infection prevention measures and further strengthen measures for medical care provision."

The cases were the first confirmation in Japan of people infected with the new variant whose transmission routes could not be traced, the health ministry said.

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