New state of emergency possible in Osaka

NHK -- Apr 21
The Japanese government may be edging closer to declaring another state of emergency, based on a request from the western prefecture of Osaka.

The number of infections has been on the rise there in recent weeks partly due to more contagious variants.

Officials in the prefecture reported 719 new infections on Monday... a record for that day of the week.

Local health authorities are asking hospitals to secure more beds amid a shortage. 254 have been set aside for severe COVID-19 cases. But 302 people are in serious condition.

The central government is sending 90 nurses to help ease the strain on the medical system.

Osaka officials have decided to ask the central government to declare a state of emergency for the prefecture so they can further restrict the movement of people. It would be the third time that measure has been taken there since the pandemic came to Japan's shores.

They plan to ask bars and restaurants, department stores and amusement parks to shut temporarily.

The number of new infections is also rising in Tokyo. Health authorities reported 711 cases on Tuesday. That's an increase of over 200 from a week ago.

Officials in the capital are also considering requesting an emergency declaration ahead of a weeklong holiday that starts in late April.