The state of emergency currently in force across 10 prefectures due to the COVID-19 pandemic looked set to remain in place Friday, with the central government deciding against lifting the measure now amid concern among health officials over high numbers of hospitalized patients.

“Although the numbers of new COVID-19 cases reported continues to be declining, medical resources are still stretched thin, so we believe it’s necessary to keep the state of emergency in place,” said Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister leading the government’s coronavirus response.

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