Japan may end the state of emergency early in regions where coronavirus cases are under control. Economy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who is in charge of Japan’s overall COVID-19 response, said today that areas not badly hit by the pandemic may exit from the nationwide state of emergency ahead of the 31 May deadline.
“Lifting the state of emergency in many of 34 prefectures that exclude those under specific cautions will likely come in sight as many prefectures have been seeing no fresh infections lately,” Nishimura said.
Some of the criteria the government will look at in deciding if a prefecture could exit the state of emergency include a declining trend in the weekly number of new cases as well as the number of new COVID-19 cases on a per capita basis. The economic minister also said that some of the 13 hard-hit prefectures – called “special alert districts” – may also leave the state of emergency early.
Last week, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe extended the state of emergency to the end of May but promised that the government would reassess the situation on 14 May.
Abe has previously cautioned that the battle against the coronavirus may be a long, drawn out one. The Japanese leader also said social distancing must still be observed as part of a “new lifestyle” for the coronavirus era, even when the country has moved past its state of emergency.
Japan has reported at least 15,800 domestic cases of the disease and 630 deaths.