[Update, February 26] NHK reports Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced at a press conference tonight that the state of emergency will be lifted for six prefectures (Aichi, Gifu, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo and Fukuoka) on Sunday, February 28. The remaining four prefectures still subject to the emergency, including Tokyo, will remain under the state of emergency until March 7.
[February 24] In early February, Japan extended its state of emergency until March 7 for ten prefectures due to the high number of active Covid-19 cases. However, The Japan Times has reported that six prefectures could have the declaration lifted early as the local situation has improved significantly. These prefectures are: Aichi, Gifu, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo and Fukuoka.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is expected to make a decision on the matter in a meeting on February 24. If the government decides to lift the state of emergency by the end of the month, a panel of health experts will be consulted on Friday before the decision is finalised.
As of February 21, the Covid-19 situation in the abovementioned prefectures has improved from Stage 4 – the worst level on Japan’s four-point scale – to Stage 3. This index is based on several factors including the weekly number of infected cases per 100,000 people as well as the occupancy rate of hospital beds.
The Greater Tokyo region, which encompasses Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures, will have the state of emergency in place until March 7.
Meanwhile, the Pfizer vaccine was approved. The first batch of inoculations, reserved for up to 20,000 frontline healthcare workers, has started on February 17.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.
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