Japan extends coronavirus state of emergency

NHK -- May 08
Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide says Japan's government is extending the coronavirus state of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka, Hyogo and Kyoto until the end of May.

Residents affected by the state of emergency have been asked to stay home as much as possible. Bars and restaurants are urged not to serve alcohol, and close by 8 p.m.

But the number of critically-ill patients has continued to rise, hitting an all-time high on Wednesday.

And Osaka's medical system is overwhelmed. A shortage of beds has led some patients to be admitted to hospital only after their condition worsened.

Officials say that for the first time every bed set aside for those in serious condition is full.

And on Thursday, Osaka reported 747 new cases. The situation prompted the prefecture to ask the central government to extend the state of emergency.

Tokyo's governor is similarly concerned, especially about the rise of more contagious variants.

Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko said, "We believe the state of emergency needs to be extended, based on analyses from a variety of angles."

The capital reported 592 new cases on Thursday.

The daily tally is several hundred lower than last week, but experts say the drop could be linked to the recent spring holiday since many facilities processed fewer tests.

Nationwide, more than 4,300 new cases and over 60 deaths have been confirmed so far on Thursday.

- NHK