Okinawa declares state of emergency as coronavirus cases soar

The number of cases has been on the rise since the central government lifted a nationwide state of emergency.
The number of cases has been on the rise since the central government lifted a nationwide state of emergency.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

TOKYO • Japan's Okinawa region has declared a state of emergency and asked people to stay home for two weeks as the popular tourist destination sees an "explosive spread" of coronavirus cases.

Governor Denny Tamaki on Friday asked residents to avoid non-essential outings following a record new daily addition to the southern island's total cases, the majority of which have been detected among US forces based there.

"We're seeing an explosive spread of infections," Mr Tamaki told reporters, adding that hospitals were being overwhelmed by the surge.

Okinawa reported 71 new coronavirus cases on Friday, bringing its total to 395.

US forces account for 248 of those cases.

Yesterday, Japan's stately, traditional kabuki theatre resumed performances, with musicians in masks, actors farther apart on stage and only half the usual number of seats.

The re-opening of Tokyo's famed Kabukiza Theatre, which called off performances from March due to the spread of the coronavirus, came even as new cases have spiked to record highs around the country.

"We're re-opening based on guidelines from infectious disease experts," Kabukiza manager Yoshitaka Hashimoto said at a Friday preview for journalists.

On the stage, the number of musicians is limited and all of them wear draped black cloth masks from nose to chest.

Performers stand farther back on the stage and keep a greater than normal distance from one another.

Actors and staff are completely different for each act, to shorten contact.

Audience members face temperature checks at the entrance and must wear masks. Seats are roped off, so fewer than half are available, and the auditorium is sterilised between each act.

Eating boxed lunches between acts - a cherished kabuki custom - is currently prohibited.

Tokyo yesterday confirmed a record 472 cases, up from 463 on Friday.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 02, 2020, with the headline 'Okinawa declares state of emergency as cases soar'. Print Edition | Subscribe