Tokyo, Jan 31 (IANS): Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Monday said a state of emergency for Tokyo was not being considered at the moment despite a surge in Covid-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant.
The hospitalisation rate in Tokyo of those with Covid-19 is moving towards the 50 per cent threshold whereby the metropolitan government would think about requesting the full emergency measures be implemented for fears that the hospitals could quickly become overburdened, reports Xinhua news agency.
Most recently, the rate in hospitals in the capital hit 48.5 per cent Sunday, prompting Kishida to clarify his current stance on the state of emergency on Monday.
"A quasi-state of emergency has already started, and our basic thinking is that we will confirm its effect, see how the situation develops and work closely with municipalities before comprehensively making a decision," Kishida told a press briefing on the matter.
"At least at this moment, the government is not considering declaring a state of emergency," he said.
At the moment, including Tokyo, 34 out of Japan's 47 prefectures are under a quasi-state of emergency, which means local governors and authorities can ask bars and restaurants to close early and refrain from serving alcohol.
A full state of emergency could see tougher anti-viral measures introduced, including capping the hours on commercial facilities such as shopping malls, cinemas and entertainment parks, or requesting they close altogether.
Local governments can also request businesses to allow their staff to work from home, and travel across prefectural borders during a state of emergency is not recommended.