January 15th, 2021

Japan widens virus emergency for 7 more areas as cases surge

By Mari Yamaguchi, The Associated Press on January 13, 2021.

People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus cross an intersection on a street in Tokyo, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

TOKYO – Japan expanded a coronavirus state of emergency for seven more prefectures Wednesday, affecting more than half the population as infections spread across the country.

Prime Minister Yoshide Suga’s announcement comes less than a week after his Jan. 7 emergency declaration for Tokyo and three nearby prefectures. The new declaration adds seven other prefectures in western and central Japan.

The measure, which focuses on requests for bars and restaurants to close at 8 p.m. and for people to avoid nonessential outings, takes effect Thursday and lasts until Feb. 7.

Suga has been criticized as being to slow to act as the country’s number of reported coronavirus infections and deaths roughly doubled over the past month to about 300,000 and 4,100.

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