Tokyo and its three neighboring prefectures will remain under a COVID-19 state of emergency for two more weeks, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced Friday evening, in a move understood to be aimed at easing burdens on hospitals — and wrestling back prominence as a leader, in the public eye, from Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike.

Public health experts and governors in Chiba, Tokyo, Kanagawa and Saitama prefectures, who had been nervous about lifting the declaration prematurely and the risk of a rebound in novel coronavirus infections, have not objected to the declaration being kept in place until March 21.

Having already extended the measure once in early February, the Suga administration had hoped to lift the state of emergency in all prefectures by March 7 and shift gears to crank up economic activity.