Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced on Tuesday that Japan will exit the state of emergency imposed since July on part of the country to confront the epidemic, while the health situation has improved significantly in recent weeks.
The current restrictive measures, mainly requiring bars and restaurants to close early and not serving alcohol, and event organizers to limit the number of spectators, were put in place in mid-July, ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Suga announced Tuesday that due to the decline in daily cases of COVID-19, the device, which is currently in effect in 19 out of 47 departments in Japan, will not be extended beyond its scheduled term on Thursday.
And he announced at a ministerial meeting that “Thanks to everyone’s efforts, the daily number of new infections (at the national level, the editor’s note), which exceeded 25,000 in mid-August, decreased yesterday to 1,128.”
He added that “the hospital bed occupancy rate across the country has fallen below 50%” and “the number of people in serious condition peaked in early September and continues to decline.”
Another system of measures less restrictive than those of the state of emergency, which relate to eight additional departments, will also end on Thursday.
However, more and more institutions have already stopped complying with the measures, believing that the financial compensation offered by the authorities was not enough to stay afloat.
Japan has been relatively spared the epidemic compared to other countries, with 17,400 official deaths recorded since the start of the epidemic.
But the hospital system has been badly tested by several peaks of contamination, exacerbated by the delta variant, which is more contagious.
Japan’s COVID vaccination program, after a very grueling start, has accelerated in recent months, and more than 58% of the Japanese population is now fully immunized.
Mr. Suga, who has been heavily criticized for his actions deemed inadequate in the face of the pandemic, broke records of unpopularity and stopped running for the presidency of the Liberal Democratic Party (PLD) in power in Japan.
An internal vote on Wednesday should decide the four candidates to succeed him. The winner will become the de facto prime minister and lead the Democratic Liberation Party to the legislative elections scheduled for November.
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