• Kyodo

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The Japanese government will add three prefectures neighboring Tokyo to the list of areas in need of stricter measures to curb a rebound in coronavirus infections, officials said Thursday.

In addition to Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa, the central prefecture of Aichi, which includes the major city of Nagoya, will be placed under a quasi-state of emergency, starting from Tuesday, the officials said.

The government will formally approve the plan to expand the list from Tokyo and five prefectures, including Osaka and Hyogo, on Friday, a day after the number of new daily confirmed coronavirus cases topped 4,000 for the second straight day.

It plans to authorize the four prefectures — Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa and Aichi — to toughen anti-virus measures through May 11, they said.

With the quasi-emergency status, prefectural governors can ask restaurants and bars in targeted cities to shorten operating hours and impose a fine of up to ¥200,000 ($1,800) for noncompliance.

On Thursday, Japan’s reported nationwide tally of new cases totaled 4,576, amid growing concern about what medical experts call a fourth wave of infections driven by the spread of more contagious variants.

Osaka Prefecture reported a daily record of 1,208 cases, topping 1,000 for the third straight day, following 1,130 reported on Wednesday and 1,099 on Tuesday.

Tokyo confirmed another 729, the highest number since it logged 734 on Feb. 4, when the capital was under a state of emergency.

Kanagawa saw 242 additional cases, Aichi 218, while Saitama reported 188 and Chiba 144.

“The number of new coronavirus cases is rising at high rates and variants are also increasing,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told reporters before leaving for Washington to hold talks with U.S. President Joe Biden.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato will serve as acting head of Friday’s government meeting to endorse adding the four prefectures to the list.

The other prefectures designated by the government earlier this month as requiring the quasi-emergency measures are Miyagi, Hyogo, Kyoto and Okinawa.

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