WORLD Japanese experts green-light lifting of COVID-19 emergency in Tokyo region

WORLD

Japanese experts green-light lifting of COVID-19 emergency in Tokyo region

Xinhua

16:53, March 18, 2021

A staff member of Takenoko ENT Clinic replenishes a package containing a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to a vending machine at the entrance of a ramen noodle shop at Shibuya district in Tokyo, Japan March 8, 2021. (Photo: Agencies)

TOKYO - A panel of experts in infectious disease and other fields has approved a decision on Thursday to lift the state of emergency for the Tokyo area as planned on Sunday.

The expert panel's approval now paves the way for Prime Minster Yoshihide Suga to make a formal announcement on the move to lift the measures in place for Tokyo and three surrounding prefectures, the last in the nation under COVID-19 emergency restrictions, following a coronavirus task-force meeting later in the day.

The Japanese leader has earlier informed the parliament of the decision, and is expected to explain it to the public in a press conference in the evening.

"A panel of experts in infectious diseases and other fields approved the decision. The government will remain vigilant against a resurgence in infections," said Yasutoshi Nishimura, minister in charge of the COVID-19 response, without providing more specifics.

The government told the expert panel that the previous strain on the healthcare system when the state of emergency was first declared had eased.

This was one of the most important criteria that had to be met in order for the lifting of restrictions.

Under the soon-to-be-lifted state of emergency, restaurants and bars must close by 8 pm and people are being urged to avoid leaving home unnecessarily, particularly in the evenings.

Businesses are requested to promote remote working, while attendees at large-scale events have been capped at 5,000 people.

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