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As the number of coronavirus infections soars to unprecedented levels, Japan will allow prefectural governments to take stronger COVID-19 measures tailored to their own needs, Daishiro Yamagiwa, the minister in charge of the government’s COVID-19 response, announced Friday.

Governors can declare that their prefectures are in need of measures to counter the BA.5 subvariant when their health care systems are severely strained, such as when a prefecture’s hospital bed occupancy rate tops 50%, he said.

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