Health Care

Japan Lifts State of Emergency in 39 Prefectures

Japan Lifts State of Emergency in 39 Prefectures”

He made the remark Thursday while lifting a national coronavirus emergency except for Tokyo and seven other prefectures that remain at high risk.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday lifted the measure ahead of schedule in 39 of the country's 47 prefectures, effective immediately.

"While controlling the spread of the virus as much as possible by acting on the premise that the virus is all around us, we will restore ordinary work and daily life", Abe told a news conference.

On April 16, Abe announced the state of emergency was expanded nationwide as its coronavirus cases continued to grow and, on April 30, was extended to May 31.

The emergency gives governors more authority to tell people to stay at home and to close schools and businesses, but there is no penalty for non-compliance.

Experts and officials have urged people to adopt "new lifestyles" and continue practising physical distancing measures such as remote working, even after the state of emergency is lifted.

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Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko has announced rules for easing the requests to suspend business after the state of emergency is lifted in the Japanese capital.

Some non-essential businesses, even in areas hit hard by the coronavirus, have started to reopen, even before Thursday's announcement, and the scope of restrictions has varied across the country.

On a weekly average, there must be fewer than 20 new infections a day, with the percentage of untraceable cases below 50 percent.

At the time of writing, there are 15,706 confirmed cases in Japan (minus those from charter flights and cruise ships).

Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister for economic revitalization, said: "We believe it's appropriate to lift the state of emergency for the prefectures".

Despite so far avoiding the devastating tolls seen in places such as Italy and NY, there have been persistent fears that Japan's healthcare system could be quickly overwhelmed by a sudden spike in infections. Despite this, mobility data has shown a striking drop in public movement.

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