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Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is set to make a decision Friday on whether to declare a state of emergency in Tokyo, Osaka, Hyogo and Kyoto prefectures, sources say. All four areas have now submitted requests for an SOE, which would allow them to ramp up restrictions in the hope of containing a surge in coronavirus cases.

Japan confirmed at least 5,044 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, the first time the daily tally has topped 5,000 since Jan. 22, with Osaka and Hyogo both posting record daily figures.

But in hard-hit Osaka, Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura is facing a backlash from experts, businesses and even his own advisers who think his proposed virus countermeasures — which extend to closing department stores and theme parks — go too far, reports Ryusei Takahashi.

Osaka set for fresh COVID-19 emergency as Japan sees more cases of highly infectious strains | CNA
Osaka set for fresh COVID-19 emergency as Japan sees more cases of highly infectious strains | CNA

Meanwhile, Japan is poised to buy more doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, a move that could pave the way for the country to immunize its entire adult population without using any doses from AstraZeneca, which have been linked to rare blood clots. The fate of the 120 million AstraZeneca shots Japan has ordered, many of which are being manufactured domestically, is unclear.

Wednesday’s (and last Wednesday’s) new COVID-19 cases by prefecture (70 or over): Osaka 1,242 (1,130), Tokyo 843 (591), Hyogo 563 (507), Aichi 312 (216), Kanagawa 252 (205), Fukuoka 244 (156), Saitama 227 (145), Kyoto 128 (125), Hokkaido 124 (77), Chiba 112 (97), Nara 112 (94), Okinawa 95 (137), Miyagi 74 (96). Source: Japan COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker

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