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The government is considering lifting its fresh state of emergency in three prefectures where new COVID-19 infections have dropped off — Aichi and Gifu in central Japan, and Fukuoka in the southwest, Jiji reports.

The government may decide on lifting the emergency in these areas at a meeting of its coronavirus response panel on Friday, although some are cautious about the move considering the high occupancy rates of hospital beds for coronavirus patients, informed sources said.

Even if the areas do exit the emergency, they are likely to be placed under a pre-emergency status where businesses will still be expected to shut early and strict anti-infection measures will remain in place. Beyond the 10 prefectures under the extended emergency, seven others told Jiji they also plan to request that restaurants and bars close early.

COVID-19: The Inside Story Of The Diamond Princess Coronavirus Infection | OUTBREAK ONBOARD | CNA INSIDER
COVID-19: The Inside Story Of The Diamond Princess Coronavirus Infection | OUTBREAK ONBOARD | CNA INSIDER

A year ago, the outbreak of COVID-19 on the Diamond Princess cruise ship anchored off Yokohama provided an early test of Japan’s defenses against the deadly virus that would later go on to upend our lives.

The episode offered several lessons, not only by demonstrating the mercurial qualities of COVID-19, but also by exposing one country’s naive response to a virus that was — and remains — largely unpredictable, reports Ryusei Takahashi. Some experts believe those lessons have been learned. Others say they’ve been forgotten, or ignored altogether.

Monday’s (and last Monday’s) new COVID-19 cases by prefecture (40 or over): Tokyo 276 (393), Chiba 155 (192), Kanagawa 121 (221), Saitama 121 (159), Osaka 119 (178), Hyogo 60 (80), Fukuoka 57 (63), Hokkaido 50 (76), Aichi 43 (80), Okinawa 40 (35). Source: Japan COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker

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