With Osaka Prefecture still reporting record high numbers of COVID-19 cases two weeks after it imposed stricter measures, Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura announced Monday that he will ask the central government to impose a fresh state of emergency, probably on Tuesday, reports Eric Johnston.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike is leaning in the same direction. On Monday, a day after she said that another emergency declaration was under consideration, Koike said the capital is weighing up all options. Kyodo reports that Tokyo will decide later this week whether to ask for one.

Experts fear that the variant strains spreading rapidly in the Kansai region around Osaka may soon wreak havoc in the Tokyo area as well, with the National Institute of Infectious Diseases predicting the strains will make up 80% to 90% of all coronavirus cases in the Tokyo region by early May.

COVID-19 update, April 19: Japan's hard-hit regions may slide back to state of emergency | CNA
COVID-19 update, April 19: Japan’s hard-hit regions may slide back to state of emergency | CNA

Japan won praise earlier in the pandemic for staying open while other developed economies locked down, which helped lift stocks to three-decade highs. But as Japan now struggles with its inoculation program while others steam ahead, some investors fear a wave of vaccine envy, Bloomberg reports.

In the past month the Topix index has sunk 2.6%. That compared with gains of 7% in the S&P 500 in New York and 4.6% by the FTSE 100 in London — where photos of revelers at reopened pubs this week contrast with reports from Tokyo, where hours have been shortened as COVID-19 cases surge.

Monday’s (and last Monday’s) new COVID-19 cases by prefecture (70 or over): Osaka 719 (603), Tokyo 405 (306), Hyogo 293 (159), Kanagawa 142 (94), Aichi 124 (122), Fukuoka 118 (30), Saitama 118 (96), Kyoto 110 (42), Chiba 106 (103), Nara 85 (49), Hokkaido 78 (58). Source: Japan COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker