Japan extends state of emergency to battle Covid-19

<p><em>(Photo courtesy of Anadolu) </em></p>

(Photo courtesy of Anadolu) 

ANKARA – Japan on Friday extended the state of emergency in four prefectures while declaring it in two more prefectures in a bid to stem the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

The state of emergency was set to end on Tuesday. However, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared that the Covid-19 emergency had been extended until May 31, Kyodo News reported.

On April 25, Japan declared the Covid-19 emergency in the capital Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Hyogo prefectures.

Suga said the state of emergency would be expanded to Aichi and Fukuoka prefectures.

Japan has declared the state of emergency for the third time since the beginning of the pandemic. It empowers the regional governments to impose stricter restrictions on the movement of people and limit working hours at public places.

The extension of the state of emergency comes as Japan readies to host the world's biggest games, the Tokyo Olympics, from mid-July. The games were scheduled for 2020 but delayed due to a raging virus.

The situation also forced International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials to rethink their visit to Japan.

Seiko Hashimoto, head of the Japanese organizing body of the Tokyo Olympics, told a news conference on Friday that it is "very difficult" for the IOC Chief Thomas Bach to visit Japan in mid-May.

"The situation is not favorable for him to visit Japan given that Tokyo has been under a state of emergency since late last month and the measure is set to be extended later Friday to May 31," Hashimoto said.

A Prime Minister's Office statement said the country had reported 3,884 new Covid-19 cases, taking the tally to 613,355. In the past 24 hours, 47 more patients died, bringing the nationwide death toll to 10,513. (Anadolu