TOKYO – Japan is preparing to declare a quasi-state of emergency in the southern island prefecture of Okinawa due to a spike in coronavirus cases, perhaps as early as this week, the Mainichi daily said on Wednesday.
It would be the first such declaration since Sept. 30, when Japan lifted all states of emergency and quasi–emergency that had been in effect for a good part of 2021.
The number of new daily coronavirus cases in Japan rose past 1,000 on Tuesday for the first time in three months, with 225 cases in Okinawa, making it one of the worst-hit parts of the nation.
New cases surged to about 600 on Wednesday, Okinawa Television reported, citing the prefectural government. That would be the highest daily count since Aug. 28, when Japan was in the midst of its fifth, and biggest to date, wave of COVID-19.
The Mainichi said Okinawa governor Denny Tamaki told Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno on Tuesday that he was considering requesting a quasi–emergency state, which would include measures such as limiting the opening hours of restaurants and bars.
Matsuno had said the government would respond promptly, the newspaper reported. No further details were given.
Okinawa has entered the “sixth wave” of the coronavirus, Tamaki told reporters on Tuesday, noting the highly transmissible Omicron variant’s role in the spread of infections.
Infections inside U.S. military bases in the prefecture continued to increase, he added. – Reuters