Arab News Japan
Japan expanded a coronavirus state of emergency for seven more prefectures Wednesday, affecting more than half the population amid a surge in infections across the country.
Prime Minister Yoshide Suga, in his third press conference this year, said that Japan will suspend fast-track entry exceptions for business visitors or others with residency permits, fully banning foreign visitors while the state of emergency is in place and announced the addition of 12 new countries to the list of border control, where people coming from the listed countries will not be allowed to enter Japan.
Addressing the bed occupancy rate, Suga said that hospital beds will be added to the medical system in order to ensure that patients with the coronavirus COVID-19 disease can be treated in addition to patients with other diseases.
Suga’s announcement comes less than a week after he declared a state of emergency for Tokyo and three nearby prefectures. The new declaration, which adds seven other prefectures in western and central Japan, takes effect Thursday and lasts until Feb. 7.
“The severe situation is continuing, but these measures are indispensable to turn the tide for the better,” Suga told a news conference, bowing as he sought understanding from the public.
Suga said he put the seven prefectures in urban areas under the state of emergency to prevent the infections from spilling over to smaller cities where medical systems are more vulnerable.
The government is asking bars and restaurants in Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Fukuoka, Aichi, Gifu and Tochigi prefectures to close by 8 p.m., employers to have 70% of their staff work from home and residents in the affected areas avoid going out for nonessential purposes.
Suga also discussed international affairs regarding North Korea, where Suga declared his willingness to meet North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un at any time to solve bilateral issues concerning both countries.
Suga took office in mid-September and pledged to keep the infections under control while also getting the economy back on track. Since then, he has faced criticism for not taking strong enough government action earlier in the outbreak. In an attempt to reach out to all the people of Japan and to keep them informed about the tackling of the pandemic, he has increased the number of press conferences usually held by the Prime Minister.
Attending the press conference Wednesday was the President of the Japan Commuinty Health Care Organization Dr. Shigeru Omi, who is the head of the medical team dealing with coronavirus, to reassure the public of the actions being implemented by the government.