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Tokyo faces new virus state of emergency

·1-min read

The Japanese government is seeking a "short and powerful" state of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka and two other prefectures, a cabinet minister says, as Japan struggles to contain a resurgent pandemic.

Under a new state of emergency issued for April 25 to May 11, the government would ask restaurants, bars, and karaoke parlours serving alcohol to close, and big sporting events to be held without spectators, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said.

Nishimura was speaking at the start of a meeting with a panel of experts to discuss the proposed measures, which are expected to be formally approved later on Friday.

As well as Tokyo and Osaka, the measures would include the prefectures of Kyoto and Hyogo, he said.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Thursday said the government planned to declare a state of emergency for Tokyo and three other prefectures, although he did not specify the length or give details on what the measures would entail.

Japan has so far avoided an explosive spread of the pandemic that has plagued many Western countries. There have been a total of about 540,000 cases and 9707 deaths.

But the latest rise in infections has stoked alarm, coming just three months before the planned start of Olympics and amid a sluggish vaccination roll-out.

Tokyo reported 861 new cases on Thursday, the most since Jan. 29, which was during the third wave of the pandemic and a previous state of emergency.

Osaka prefecture reported 1,167, down slightly from a record.