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Japan on Friday acted to contain a record surge in COVID-19 cases with a return to curbs that have shown diminishing results, while a laggard vaccine booster program leaves many people vulnerable to breakthrough infections.

The government empowered authorities in Tokyo and 12 other prefectures to implement guidelines on mobility and business activity under a quasi-emergency — measures that, with three prefectures already under such devolved restrictions, now cover half of Japan’s population.

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