Japan extends COVID-19 state of emergency by three weeks

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On Friday, Japan extended a state of emergency in Tokyo and other areas by about three weeks to June 20 as the COVID-19 pandemic shows no signs of easing less than two months before the Summer Olympics open.

The state of emergency in the capital and eight other prefectures had been scheduled to end on May 31, but strains on the medical system.

Japan has seen a record number of COVID-19 patients in critical condition in recent days, even as the number of new infections has slowed.

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“In Osaka and Tokyo, the flow of people is starting to creep up, and there are concerns that infections will rise,” Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who also heads the country’s coronavirus countermeasures, said at the start of a meeting with experts.

The experts later approved the government proposal and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga officially announced the extensions.

Worries about variants of the novel coronavirus and a slow vaccination drive have prompted urgent calls from doctors, some high-profile business executives, and hundreds of thousands of citizens to cancel the Olympic Games, due to start on July 23.

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