Emergency declaration winds down as cases fall

NHK -- Jun 15
The clock is winding down in Japan on the emergency declaration for Tokyo, Osaka and eight other prefectures.

Osaka's Governor is calling for intensive quasi-emergency measures if the declaration is indeed lifted on June 20.

The number of new cases in Osaka Prefecture on Monday was 57. It's the first time the figure has fallen below 60 in over three months.

Governor Yoshimura Hirofumi visited a vaccination venue and told reporters the prefecture plans to consider easing the current restrictions on large-scale commercial facilities. But he's wary about returning to "normal" too quickly.

Governor Yoshimura said, "The measures involving bars and restaurants are more important than ever. The most important thing is that Osaka does not repeat the same mistakes. So with this in mind, we have to consider what needs to be done. Difficult decisions will be required."

In Tokyo, the number of new cases reported Monday was 209, down 26 from the figure reported last Monday.

But the average daily number of cases over the immediate seven-day period is higher than the last time the government decided to lift the emergency declaration.

One expert says it's too early to act just yet.

Professor Matsumoto Tetsuya of the International University of Health and Welfare said, "The number of new cases isn't at a level where the emergency declaration can be lifted safely. Now, there is more movement of people, including at night. This creates conditions that could trigger a surge in cases at any time. To avoid a rebound in Tokyo, for instance, the declaration should not be lifted unless the daily new cases drops to around 100."

The government's Chief Cabinet Secretary also weighed in on the issue.

Kato Katsunobu said, "The matter will be considered comprehensively and carefully by consulting experts and sharing information with local governments."

Nationwide, over 930 new cases were confirmed on Monday. 60 deaths from COVID-19 were reported.

The total number of patients in serious condition stands at around 850. - NHK