At least eight more prefectures have been added to the emergency order, bringing the total to 21, as the country sees a sudden rise in critical cases.
On Wednesday, the minister in charge of COVID-19 countermeasures announced that Japan is expanding the state of emergency to eight more prefectures, bringing the total to 21 prefectures to stem the rapid rise in coronavirus cases.
The government has so far placed 13 of Japan’s 47 prefectures, including the capital, Tokyo, under emergency restrictions set to run until September 12 to combat the escalating delta-type cases that have increased pressure on the health care system.
“Critical cases have suddenly risen and the medical system is in a very deplorable state,” Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said at the start of a meeting with a panel of advisors, who need their approval to formalize the plan.
He said the government wants to impose emergency restrictions on Hokkaido, Aichi, Hiroshima and five other regions stretching across the Japanese archipelago from August 27 to September 12.
He said it is also looking at adding four more provinces for more limited “semi-emergency” measures.
Restrictions in Japan have been more flexible than lockdowns seen in some countries and centered on mandates for restaurants to close early and stop serving alcohol in exchange for a subsidy. There have also been requests for companies to have more employees working from home.
On Tuesday, the country reported 21,500 new COVID-19 cases per day and 42 more deaths across the country Tuesday, according to the Ministry of Health.
The total number of cases nationwide was 1.34 million, with more than 15,700 deaths and nearly 2,000 serious cases.
The case fatality rate in Japan is around 1.2%, compared to 1.7% in the United States and 2.0% in Britain.
But about 90 percent of critical care beds in Tokyo are occupied as serious cases rise, forcing many people to recover at home, and some dying before they can get treatment.
About 25,000 patients are recovering at home due to the lack of beds, NHK says.