Japan expands COVID-19 state of emergency as Olympics loom

Japan expands COVID-19 state of emergency as Olympics loom
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Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced on Friday that the country will expand its COVID-19 state of emergency as it is set to hold the Olympics in a few months.

“Infections are escalating extremely rapidly in populated areas,” Suga explained during a government task force meeting, according to The Associated Press.

In light of the increased spread of coronavirus infections, Suga reportedly said that Japan's coronavirus state of emergency is set to expand to Japan’s northern island state of Hokkaido, which is where the Olympics will be held, Okayama in western Japan and Hiroshima. Prior to Friday's announcement, the state of emergency only applied to Tokyo, Osaka and four other prefectures.

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According to Suga, the new, expanded coronavirus restrictions, which require bars and most entertainment facilities to close, will go into effect this Sunday, the AP reported.

The government is set to pay businesses for their cooperation with the restrictions and fine those that fail to adhere to them.

Japan's vaccine rollout has been slow, garnering frustration from local residents. Many have opposed the country hosting this year's Olympics as just 2 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, the AP noted.

Japan has seen a total of 665,547 coronavirus cases and 11,255 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Nearly 6,800 new confirmed cases were reported on Thursday, according to the AP.