Tokyo declares state of emergency as coronavirus cases surge

Tokyo declares state of emergency as coronavirus cases surge
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Japan's prime minister declared a state of emergency for the region surrounding Tokyo on Thursday as the country experiences its highest levels of new COVID-19 cases so far.

The Associated Press reported that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced the measure at a government coronavirus task force briefing. The measure requires bars and restaurants in the city and surrounding areas to close by 8 p.m., while asking residents to stay home if possible.

“I am confident we can overcome this, but I must ask all of you endure a restricted life for a while longer,” Suga said, according to the AP.


“Please take this matter seriously as your own, to protect all precious life, your parents, your grandparents, family and friends, over generations,” the prime minister added.

Reuters reported the head of Japan's largest group of licensed physicians, the Japan Medical Association, warned Thursday in a separate statement that the country may need to extend such restrictions nationwide.

The country reported more than 7,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, according to The New York Times, with the Tokyo region breaking its single-day record for new cases at 2,447.

Hospital officials in the city told the Times that many facilities are reaching capacity due to the influx of cases.

“We can’t take any more patients at this time,” one official told the Times. “I think a lot of hospitals that take in COVID patients are in the same situation right now.”

Japan's regulatory requirements for vaccines to undergo local clinical trials have been blamed for the country's slow rollout of a vaccine compared to other industrialized countries such as the U.S., according to the Japan Times; just one vaccine candidate, from Pfizer and BioNTech, is currently under regulatory review in the country, while a vaccine from AstraZeneca and Oxford University remains in clinical trials and trials of the Moderna vaccine are reportedly due to start later this month.