Osaka – Faced with a rising number of coronavirus infections, Osaka Prefecture on Wednesday requested that the central government extend quasi-emergency measures currently due to expire Sunday.
“It’s clear there are signs of another spread of infections — the danger of a rebound is extremely high,” Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura said, adding that it was critical to maintain current policies to complete vaccinations for those over 65 by the end of the month.
In a letter to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga sent Wednesday, Yoshimura noted that the prefecture’s hospital bed occupancy rate and the number of people receiving treatment per 100,000 people had decreased to the central government’s Stage 3 level.
However, Yoshimura added, the weekly rolling average of new infections was increasing, especially for young people.
On Wednesday, Osaka reported 151 cases, after logging 136 cases Tuesday. There were 789 over the seven-day period to July 6, an increase from 686 a week earlier. The more infectious delta variant has also been confirmed in the prefecture — on Tuesday, seven people were reported to have it.
“We believe that thorough infection prevention measures are still needed,” Yoshimura wrote. “For this reason, we request that the period in which priority measures are in effect be extended.”
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato only said that the government would continue to monitor the situation with each local government under the priority measures. The central government is expected to make a decision Thursday.
At present, quasi-emergency measures are in place through Sunday in nine prefectures: Tokyo, Chiba, Saitama, Kanagawa, Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Aichi and Fukuoka. Okinawa Prefecture remains under a full state of emergency, also until Sunday.
Osaka currently allows restaurants and bars in 33 cities and towns to serve alcohol until 7 p.m. and remain open until 8 p.m. — measures that will remain the same even if the quasi-emergency is extended. In instances where they have a certificate from the prefecture showing they have adopted coronavirus prevention measures, the prefecture plans to increase the number of people per group who can be served alcohol, to four from the current two.
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