TOKYO: The Tokyo metropolitan government said Thursday it will ask the Japanese government to extend its state of emergency for the capital over the novel coronavirus until May 31.
The state of emergency is set to expire on Tuesday.
The emergency “needs to be extended as the situation doesn’t allow it to be lifted,” Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike told reporters.
The infection situation in Tokyo “remains unpredictable,” Koike said, adding that the metropolitan government cannot ease the shutdown request on commercial facilities it has issued under the state of emergency at the current situation.
Besides Tokyo, the ongoing state of emergency, the third of its kind for the country, covers the three western prefectures of Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo.
The governors of Tokyo and the three neighboring prefectures of Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa, meeting by video link, agreed to ask the central government to extend the state of emergency for the capital and the pre-emergency designation for the three others until May 31.
The Osaka prefectural government said it will ask the central government to extend the state of emergency. The Kyoto and Hyogo prefectural governments are also considering asking for an extension.
Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura told officials that daily infection cases remain elevated in the prefecture, at more than 1,000. “We have no choice but to request an extension,” he said.
Osaka’s medical system is under a strain, with the hospital bed occupancy rate for severely ill COVID-19 patients topping 100 percent as of Wednesday. The bed occupancy rate for patients with mild to moderate symptoms exceeded 80 percent.
Speaking to reporters, Yoshimura said: “A short period of time would be difficult. The hospital bed occupancy rate would likely remain high at the end of May.” But he did not say until when the state of emergency should be extended.