Japan may extend quasi-emergency as Covid-19 cases hit record: Report

Japan reported a record of 94,771 new daily cases on Feb 2, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (BLOOMBERG) - Japan's government is considering extending the state of quasi-emergency covering Tokyo and 13 other prefectures by two weeks, a local broadcaster reported, as the nation's daily Covid-19 cases continue to hit records.

A formal decision on the measures, currently set to expire Feb 13, will be made next week, FNN reported citing an unidentified government official.

The move comes as Japan reported a record of 94,771 new daily cases on Wednesday (Feb 2). The seven-day rolling average death toll reached the highest level in more than four months according to Our World in Data.

"The spread is likely to continue for some time and we can't read the peak of infection yet," Dr Takaji Wakita, the chair of a panel advising the health ministry said Wednesday, according to local reports.

In Tokyo, a panel of experts advising the local government is set to raise its Covid-19 medical system alert to the highest of four levels on Thursday, FNN said.

More than half of the hospital beds for Covid-19 in the capital are filled as of Wednesday, while the bed usage for severely ill patients is at 5.5 per cent.

Tokyo is setting new guidelines for asking the central government to declare a state of emergency, local broadcaster TBS reported.

The guidelines will include criteria such as minimum 30 per cent to 40 per cent bed occupancy for seriously ill patients or those hospitalised that need oxygen treatment, as well as the seven-day average number of new infections reaching 25,000, it said.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Monday he's not considering declaring a state of emergency in Tokyo right now, even as cases jump and the hospital occupancy rate climbs.

The capital is currently under a quasi-emergency that calls on places such as eateries and bars to close early and limit alcohol sales.

Japan's seven-day rolling average of Covid-19 deaths was 0.33 per million as at Jan 31, the highest level since September, when the Delta wave swept through the country according to Our World in Data.

That is still low compared to 7.34 per million people in the United States and 3.86 in Britain, according to the data.

While about 80 per cent of the population have received two shots of vaccine, only 4 per cent have received a booster dose.

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