Tokyo: In an effort to curb a recent surge in infections, the Japanese government has decided to place capital Tokyo under the fourth Covid-19 state of emergency, covering the entire duration of the upcoming Olympics.
As per a report by Xinhua news agency, the government announced that the emergency will be effective from July 12 to August 22, which may cause the Summer Olympic Games to be held without spectators at venues in the capital.
Earlier on the day, the government submitted to its subcommittee of experts on basic COVID-19 measures a plan to declare a new state of emergency for the capital, to which priority measures have been applied. The subcommittee approved the plan.
A state of emergency currently in place for Okinawa Prefecture and priority measures taken for Osaka Prefecture and three prefectures in the Tokyo metropolitan area will be extended.
Addressing a news conference here, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said that the occupancy rate of hospital beds and the number of patients in serious condition remain low due to the vaccine rollout, but infection cases in Tokyo were rising due to the spread of the Delta variant.
"We must avoid another outbreak starting in Tokyo. With that in mind, we decided to take preemptive measures, and declare a state of emergency for Tokyo once again," Suga was quoted as saying by the public broadcaster, NHK.
Meanwhile, stocks in Japan fell on Thursday as Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced a state of emergency in the capital city of Tokyo.
According to news agency Reuters, the Nikkei share average slipped 0.88% to 28,118.03, its lowest close in over two weeks. The broader Topix, on the other hand, was down 0.90% at 1,920.32.
With two weeks until the Olympic Games, Suga pledged safety above all.
"Holding a safe and secure Games amid the coronavirus pandemic is a good opportunity to show our global unity to overcome the current difficulties together," he said.
Infection cases in the capital have been going up.
Health authorities reported 896 new infections on Thursday, marking the 19th straight day cases have gone up compared to the week before.
Japan has so far reported 811,712 coronavirus cases, with 14,897 deaths.
At least 37,214,200 vaccine doses against Covid-19 have been administered in the country to date.