Japan to restart some public facilities after state of emergency extended

Japan PM extends virus state of emergency until May 31

Japan PM extends virus state of emergency until May 31

Abe will consider lifting the state of emergency without waiting for its May 31 expiration if expert advisors decide that is possible based on detailed analysis of regional infection trends, he said at a meeting of the government's coronavirus task force. Abe will hold a news conference on the matter at 6 p.m. Monday.

After an advisory panel of medical experts approved the extension in the morning, the government notified the parliament of the decision.

The original 30-day decree imposed by Abe on April 7, which is set to expire on Wednesday, covered Tokyo and six other prefectures, but was later extended nationwide as the number of infections continued to rise.

"We need to see a further reduction in new cases", Nishimura said. Crowds and the movement of people have decreased but hitting the targets has proven hard, according to recent data.

The state of emergency falls far short of the harshest measures seen in parts of Europe and the US. It allows governors to urge people stay at home and call on businesses to stay shut.

But officials can not compel citizens to comply, and there are no punishments for those who fail to do so.

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He added that the planned reopening of public facilities will be allowed in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Hokkaido, Fukuoka and eight other prefectures that the government has singled out for taking stepped-up measures against the virus.

As of Sunday, Japan has reported 15,789 cases of the virus (including 712 cases from the Diamond Princess cruise ship), with 549 deaths (including 13 deaths from the Diamond Princess cruise ship).

Japan's state of emergency gives the authority to local governors to request residents stay indoors and suspend businesses, although it can not force lockdown measures with penalties. Bars and nightclubs will be asked to remain shut.

But there have been persistent fears about a spike in infections that could quickly overwhelm the country's healthcare system.

There are just five ICU beds per 100,000 people in Japan, less than half the number in Italy, and doctors' associations have warned that hospitals are already stretched thin.

Measures have been implemented to try to ease the pressure, including sending coronavirus patients with mild symptoms to hotels for quarantine and increasing testing capacity.

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