Japan Govt Cautious about Declaring COVID-19 Emergency

Politics Lifestyle

Tokyo, Feb. 1 (Jiji Press)--The Japanese government is cautious about issuing a COVID-19 state of emergency despite a surge in cases with the omicron variant out of concerns about the measure's possible huge impact on social and economic activities.

"We're not considering it at least for now," Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters Monday when asked about the possibility of declaring the emergency for Tokyo.

The hospital bed occupancy rate for COVID-19 patients in Tokyo was 49.2 pct as of Monday, nearing 50 pct, the threshold for the metropolitan government to seek the emergency. But Kishida said that the rate was 37.6 pct for severely ill patients.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a news conference that the emergency "involves strong restrictions on private rights and has a great impact on society and the economy." The state of emergency cannot be issued automatically only because certain indicators are met, he said.

When a COVID-19 state of emergency is issued, prefectural governors can request restaurants and bars to shut and restrict numbers of event participants.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press