Tokyo reports 816 new COVID-19 cases as governors push for state of emergency

TOKYO reported 816 new daily coronavirus cases on Sunday, a day after governors from the capital and neighboring prefectures called on the Japanese government to announce a state of emergency to combat a recent surge in cases.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has resisted calls for a second national state of emergency; the government first introduced that measure in April during an earlier wave of the pandemic. Suga is scheduled to speak publicly on January 4.

Japan’s economy minister told reporters on Saturday the government needed to consult with health experts before deciding on a new declaration.

As an interim measure, restaurants and karaoke parlors in the Tokyo area are being asked to close at 8 p.m., while businesses that serve alcohol should close at 7 p.m., he said.

The previous state of emergency relied on voluntary business closings and travel restrictions rather than the sort of rigid lockdown measures seen elsewhere in the world.

Tokyo raised its COVID-19 alert to its highest level on December 17. New infections in the capital hit a record 1,337 on Dec. 31.

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Japan’s health ministry said on Sunday there were 3,045 new confirmed cases of the new coronavirus across the country.

Since the start of the pandemic, Japan has reported more than 240,000 cases of the novel coronavirus and 3,548 deaths, according to the health ministry.

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