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The central government plans to extend the state of emergency covering regions struggling to contain coronavirus outbreaks by one month until March 7, an official said Monday. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is set to make a final decision on the extension after hearing from an expert panel Tuesday.

According to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, only one prefecture will be removed from the designation while none will be added.

On Monday, Japan’s Lower House passed bills to introduce fines for people and businesses that fail to comply with measures meant to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The same day, a senior member of the ruling coalition offered to quit the Diet after admitting he visited a Tokyo hostess bar despite government calls to avoid unnecessary outings under the state of emergency.

Ruling lawmaker submits resignation over bar visit amid state of emergency | NIPPON TV NEWS 24 JAPAN
Ruling lawmaker submits resignation over bar visit amid state of emergency | NIPPON TV NEWS 24 JAPAN

As a third wave of infections overwhelms contact tracers at public health centers, areas such as Kanagawa are leaning more heavily on the state-developed COCOA app. But is it up to the task?

While in other countries, governments have been caught exploiting COVID-19 tracing data for other uses, eroding public trust, in Japan the privacy protections may even be too strict, to the point that it’s next to impossible to gauge COCOA’s effectiveness, critics say. Indeed, as Tomohiro Osaki reports, anecdotal evidence from users suggests the app is far from perfect.

Monday’s (and the previous Monday’s) new COVID-19 cases by prefecture (50 or over): Tokyo 393 (618), Kanagawa 221 (351), Chiba 192 (291), Osaka 178 (273), Saitama 159 (251), Aichi 80 (89), Hokkaido 76 (88), Fukuoka 63 (154), Kyoto 63 (91), Hyogo 60 (80). Source: Japan COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker

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