No new state of emergency as nightlife drives Tokyo’s coronavirus spread

FILE PHOTO: A woman with a protective face mask walks along the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in a shopping district in Tokyo, Japan, July 2, 2020. REUTERS / Kim Kyung-Hoon / FILE PHOTO

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan will not reintroduce a state of emergency to combat the novel corona virus, a government spokesman said on Friday when the cases in Tokyo rose to a two-month high due to the spread of the virus in the capital's nightclubs.

Tokyo reported 124 new cases on Friday, up from 107 the previous day, due in part to increased testing among night workers in the Shinjuku and Ikebukuro districts.

Despite the increase, the number of serious cases is declining and there is no need to restore the state of emergency lifted on May 25, said cabinet chief Yoshihide Suga.

Japan's infection rates remain well below many other countries, but the increasing number of cases and the possibility of new restrictions have put authorities and businesses at risk.

Tokyo is on amber alert – the third hardest on a four-tier scale – said Governor Yuriko Koike, whose medical facilities are on the lower yellow level, indicating that they are not in immediate danger of being overwhelmed.

"We will prevent the spread of infections while maintaining daily life," said Koike, Tokyo's first governor, who is expected to comfortably win a second term in a Sunday election after a pandemic-dominated campaign.

Preventive measures have already driven Japan's economy into recession in the first quarter, with a lower decline expected in the April-June quarter.

The state of emergency gave the governors of Japan's 47 prefectures greater legal authority to urge people to stay at home and do business, but there were no fines or non-compliance arrests.

The government is considering revising the law to increase enforcement of blocking requests, the Jiji news agency added, adding that it intends to present a bill before or during next year's parliamentary session.

Reporting by Sam Nussey and Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Robert Birsel

(tagsToTranslate) US (t) HEALTH (t) CORONAVIRUS (t) JAPAN (t) General News (t) Asia Pacific (t) Japan (t) Government / Politics



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