Japan extends virus state of emergency until May 31

Henrietta Strickland
May 6, 2020

Japan's minister in charge of the coronavirus response says the government plans to hear experts' opinions every week to consider whether to lift the state of emergency for the coronavirus.

But, for the moment, in the 13 prefectures that have been hardest hit, including Tokyo and Osaka, a target of reducing person-to-person contacts by 80% will remain in place. The rest of the nation may begin easing restrictions for small businesses, such as restaurants and cultural facilities, with appropriate prevention measures.

Prime Minister Abe made the announcement on Monday after meeting with the government's coronavirus task force.

He said there is a possibility of an early lifting of the measures if data at mid-May show improvement.

The state of emergency in Japan is not strictly a lockdown: it strongly urges residents to stay home while non-essential businesses are asked to temporarily close.

This story was first published on CNN.com's live updates on COVID-19.

The state of emergency falls far short of the harshest measures seen in parts of Europe and the United States. Japan has confirmed 14,305 people as infected with the coronavirus and 455 deaths, far below levels seen in the US and parts of Europe.

It remains unclear when and whether schools - many of which have been closed since March - will be able to reopen, with officials recently suggesting a possible phased approach with certain key grades resuming before others.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the globe has surpassed 3.3 million, while the global death toll is more than 238,000, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The government has also said it is increasing testing capacity but continues to face criticism for the relatively low numbers of tests being carried out, in part because of stringent criteria.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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