Japan considers declaring COVID-19 emergency

Japan is considering issuing a new emergency declaration to tackle the country’s record surge in COVID-19 cases. The head of Japan’s pandemic response on Saturday said the government needs to consult with health experts before deciding on another declaration.

As an interim measure, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nakamura said restaurants and karaoke parlors in the Tokyo area would be asked to close at 8 PM, businesses serving alcohol - 7 PM.

All this in response to a meeting he held earlier Saturday with the governors of Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures. The governors urged a new state of emergency declaration.

Tokyo raised its COVID-19 alert level to its highest notch on December 17. On Thursday, new infections in the capital rose to a record 1,337 cases, and the country set a record with more than 4500 new cases.

But Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has so far resisted calls to reinstate a national state of emergency.