TOKYO, April 8 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga Thursday said that Tokyo will likely be placed under stronger anti-virus measures due to a resurgence of COVID-19 infections in the capital and increased pressure on healthcare facilities.
The Japanese leader said the new, tougher measures will come into effect from next Monday and remain in place until May 11, according to sources familiar with the matter.
New COVID-19 cases in Tokyo hit a two-month high the previous day, less than three weeks after a second state of emergency was lifted for the capital since the outbreak of the virus in Japan.
Nationwide, meanwhile, new cases surpassed the 3,000-mark for the second successive day on Thursday, which was the first time in more than two months.
Kyoto and Okinawa prefectures, may also be designated as being on the verge of a state of emergency, with the designation to be effective until May 5, the sources also said.
The Japanese leader said he will meet with health minister Norihisa Tamura and other members of his cabinet and hold talks with the government's coronavirus task-force on Friday, before formalizing the stricter measures.
Suga said other prefectures may also be placed under stricter COVID-19 measures.
These potential moves come with less than four months to go before Tokyo is scheduled to host the Summer Olympics.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has requested the central government to grant the permission for her to implement stronger anti-viral measures.
These include requesting restaurants and bars to shorten their opening hours and close at 8:00 p.m. in certain areas, with establishments facing possible fines for non-compliance.
Koike said that the new emergency period should cover the upcoming Golden Week holidays which run from late April through early May and are a hugely busy time of travel for Japanese vacationers.
COVID-19 cases have been rising since around mid-March. A state of emergency covering Tokyo ended on March 21.
Tokyo confirmed 555 new infections on Wednesday, the most since early February, and reported 545 on new cases on Thursday.
Of the around 3,500 new cases reported nationwide Thursday, Osaka Prefecture confirmed 905, marking a record high for the third successive day. The western prefecture is already under a medical state of emergency.
The prefectures of Osaka, neighboring Hyogo and Miyagi in the northeast, were designated on Monday as being on the brink of a state of emergency.
Stricter measures came into effect Monday for the three prefectures in an effort to combat a resurgence of COVID-19 cases under a revised law that does not require declaring a state of emergency.
The tougher measures effective for one month until May 5, with restaurants and bars requested to close by 8:00 p.m. and customers asked to wear masks while conversing.
Businesses are also being urged to promote remote working for their employees, and large spectator events will have had the numbers of attendees capped at 5,000. Enditem