• SHARE

With the COVID-19 pandemic worsening in areas of Japan beyond the capital, the government is expected to extend the nation’s second state of emergency Wednesday to cover Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures in the Kansai region, as well as Aichi and Gifu prefectures, reports Eric Johnston.

Media reports also said Tochigi and Fukuoka prefectures would be brought under the declaration, too, after they called on the central government Tuesday to expand the state of emergency there.

With the three-day weekend seeing no change in the number of people venturing out in the Tokyo area, the government’s coronavirus point man, Yasutoshi Nishimura, has called on residents to avoid nonessential outings during the day — not just the evening, Jesse Johnson reports. “Even in the daytime, the risk of infection does not change,” Nishimura said Monday, citing low temperatures and the dry winter air as factors.

A notice in the center of Osaka on Tuesday advises the public that a state of emergency has been declared by prefectural authorities. | KYODO
A notice in the center of Osaka on Tuesday advises the public that a state of emergency has been declared by prefectural authorities. | KYODO

With vaccinations still a way off, public behavior will determine the length and depth of Japan’s current surge in infections. While many countries have already begun vaccinations, the rollout of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine here is not likely to start before late February due to requirements that all drugs go through local trials.

Moderna’s vaccine is unlikely to win approval in Japan until May, the distributor told Reuters last week, considering the regulatory bottleneck, while AstraZeneca began Japan trials of its vaccine in September but has not yet applied for approval.

Tuesday’s (and Monday’s) new COVID-19 cases by prefecture (50 or over): Tokyo 970 (1,219), Kanagawa 906 (695), Chiba 415 (340), Osaka 374 (480), Saitama 261 (347), Fukuoka 199 (212), Hyogo 161 (154), Hokkaido 145 (135), Aichi 132 (198), Kyoto 108 (142), Tochigi 83 (106), Ibaraki 70 (67), Kumamoto 66 (57), Nagano 51 (73). Source: Japan COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker

PHOTO GALLERY (CLICK TO ENLARGE)