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From Hokkaido in the north to far southern Okinawa, Japan is struggling to contain the virus and accommodate and care for increasing numbers of seriously ill COVID-19 patients.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, who used popular catchphrases to help contain the flow of people and keep infections low last summer, is finding her influence has weakened as the capital’s residents disregard calls to stay home.

And while many restaurants in Tokyo are following requests to shorten their hours in the evenings in return for subsidies, others are starting to break ranks, arguing that such requests are pushing them past their limits.

Japan records deadliest day from coronavirus | NIPPON TV NEWS 24 JAPAN
Japan records deadliest day from coronavirus | NIPPON TV NEWS 24 JAPAN

In Osaka, the government is asking private hospitals to free up extra beds for COVID-19 patients, as occupancy rates reach dangerous levels.

“We would like to ask for cooperation from hospitals that are capable enough,” Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura said. “If they don’t, we’ll have to issue a directive based on Article 33 of the special measures law.”

Farther south, Okinawa Prefecture has issued its own emergency declaration and plans to ask the central government to include it in the wider state of emergency already covering 11 prefectures. Shizuoka put out an “emergency warning” Tuesday after three infections with a new virus variant were confirmed in the prefecture.

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