|The surge in the number of COVID-19 infections in the country became particularly notable after a four-day weekend late last month, fueling worries about the strain on the health care system. People walk in Tokyo's Shinjuku district on Saturday. (Photo by=KYODO)|
[Asia News = Reporter Reakkana] Japan expanded Monday a COVID-19 state of emergency covering the capital and Okinawa to include Osaka and three prefectures near Tokyo due to a recent spike in coronavirus cases amid fears of a medical system collapse during the Olympics, Kyodo reported.
The government of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has added Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama, and Osaka prefectures to areas under emergency through Aug. 31. The emergency period in Tokyo and Okinawa was also extended to the end of the month from the initially planned Aug. 22. Establishments serving alcohol or offering karaoke in the six prefectures under the emergency are asked to close during the period, with the government providing money for compliance. Those not serving alcohol are requested to close at 8 p.m.
The government is expected to outline how it will ease restrictions as inoculation of the population progresses, but the end of the epidemic is not in sight yet in the country. The surge in infections comes amid the spread of the virus's highly contagious Delta variant, first detected in India. Meanwhile, on Sunday, the nationwide tally of new infections topped 10,000 for the fourth straight day, with 28.3 percent of Japan's population of 126 million fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Friday.