Japan government to end state of emergency in five prefectures at end of month

Shoppers wearing protective face masks walk on the street at Tsukiji outer market, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Tokyo, Japan

The Japanese government will end a state of emergency in five prefectures west of Tokyo at the end of this month, a week earlier than scheduled, Kyodo news agency reported on Thursday.

Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Aichi and Gifu prefectures will all have their emergency coronavirus pandemic measures lifted, Kyodo cited government sources as saying.

Although daily COVID-19 cases have been in decline nationwide after peaking in early January, Tokyo and nine other prefectures are still under a state of emergency to prevent a resurgence in infections.

The emergency measures are currently due to end in the five prefectures on March 7.

The five other prefectures under emergency are Tokyo and neighbouring Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba in the Kanto area as well as the southwestern prefecture of Fukuoka.

The government has yet to decide whether to end the emergency in Fukuoka at the end of the month, depending in part on hospital bed availability in the prefecture, Kyodo said.

Japan recorded 1,065 new COVID-19 cases as of 6:30 pm local time (1130 GMT) on Thursday, national broadcaster NHK said, well below a peak of almost 8,000 on Jan. 8.

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