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Tougher coronavirus measures were introduced in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures on Sunday under a third state of emergency amid a nationwide surge in cases.

Coronavirus variants are spreading rapidly in affected areas, with N501Y strains forecast to account for over 90% of all new infections in Tokyo, Osaka and Hyogo within weeks. Japan has also confirmed its first cases of infection with a “double mutant” variant like the one raging through India.

The government is asking residents of areas under the SOE to stay home even more than they did under last spring’s first emergency, but that may be asking a lot, considering many have issues with the scope and effectiveness of the measures.

Japan declares states of emergency in Tokyo, Osaka and two other areas just three months before Olympics | CNA
Japan declares states of emergency in Tokyo, Osaka and two other areas just three months before Olympics | CNA

While schools will generally stay open, closures requests will go further and have more teeth than under previous emergencies. Places selling alcohol have been asked to shutter, and Tokyo’s neighbors are following suit in hopes of avoiding an influx of drinkers from the capital.

Sunday’s (and last Sunday’s) new COVID-19 cases by prefecture (70 or over): Osaka 1,050 (1,220), Tokyo 635 (543), Hyogo 473 (406), Fukuoka 334 (110), Aichi 225 (207), Kanagawa 221 (220), Saitama 221 (166), Kyoto 150 (116), Chiba 146 (145), Hokkaido 110 (98), Nara 90 (79), Ibaraki 76 (47). Source: Japan COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker

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