State of emergency declared in Tokyo as Covid cases rise

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Japan has declared a state of emergency in Tokyo which will run throughout the Olympic Games, to combat the coronavirus.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told reporters it would remain in place until 22 August.

Bars and restaurants will not be allowed to serve alcohol and must close early, the minister announced.

Coronavirus infections are rising in Tokyo as the 23 July opening ceremony edges closer.

There has been widespread opposition to the Games in Japan, with calls for them to be postponed or cancelled.

“Taking into consideration the effect of coronavirus variants and not to let the infections spread again to the rest of the nation, we need to strengthen our countermeasures,” the prime minister said.

“Given the situation, we will issue a state of emergency for Tokyo.”

Organisers are reportedly also considering barring fans from almost all Olympic events.

This announcement was made after a meeting between the organising committee, the government and the International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach, who arrived in Japan on Wednesday.

The Olympic Games are scheduled to take place in the Japanese capital between the 23rd of July and 8 August. The Paralympic Games are between the 24th of August and 5 September.

A new wave of infections began in April, but overall the country has had relatively low case numbers and a death toll of around 14, 900.

On Wednesday, there were 2,180 new cases reported in the country. Some 920 of those were in Tokyo, up from 714 last week and its highest since 1,010 on the 13th of May. Japan’s vaccination rollout has been slow, and just over 15% of the country is fully vaccinated. There is rising concern over the threat of the Delta variant.

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By FARPost Reporter