Japan will extend the state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic by nearly a month, as it is still reporting hundreds of new infection cases daily, the government said on Monday.
The government will extend the nationwide state of emergency until May 31, Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of economic revitalisation, told the lower house steering committee.
The government is considering lifting the emergency “if certain conditions are met,” Nishimura said.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has scheduled a news conference later in the day to report the decision.
Japan on Sunday reported 199 new cases and 18 deaths from the COVID-19 respiratory disease, which is caused by the virus, according to a Kyodo News tally.
As of Sunday, the country has confirmed 15,771 cases, including 712 on a cruise ship quarantined near Tokyo in February, and 548 deaths, a Kyodo tally showed.
However, critics argue actual numbers are much larger, as Abe’s government has intentionally limited testing.
The government and Japan’s media have continued to downplay such criticism.
Japan conducted only 1.45 tests per 1,000 people, compared with South Korea’s 12.31 and Germany’s 30.4, according to Our World in Data, a research team at the University of Oxford.
The number of cases has jumped since the International Olympic Committee and Japan agreed on the postponement of this summer’s Tokyo Olympics on March 24.
In early April, Abe declared a state of emergency for seven prefectures, including Tokyo and Osaka, that would have lasted through Wednesday, urging their residents to refrain from non-essential and non-urgent outings to contain the spread of the virus.
A week later, it was expanded to the whole country, as the number of new cases had continued to rise across Japan.
Even under the state of the emergency, people flooded pachinko parlours in some areas and drove to the beaches, as the measures are not compulsory.
Meanwhile, 44 crew members from Indonesia on an Italian cruise ship left the south-western city of Nagasaki late Sunday.
A total of 149 crew members on The Costa Atlantica tested positive for the coronavirus in late April after the Nagasaki prefectural government tested all 623 people on the ship, which had no passengers.
Five of them remain hospitalised.
The operator Costa Cruises said earlier it had planned to send home those who tested negative.