The Japanese government has decided to place capital Tokyo under the fourth Covid-19 state of emergency, covering the entire duration of the upcoming Olympics, in an effort to curb a recent surge in infections.
The government announced on Thursday that the emergency will be effective from July 12 to August 22, which may cause the Summer Olympic Games to be held without spectators at venues in the capital, Xinhua news agency reported.
Addressing a news conference here, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said that the occupancy rate of hospital beds and the number of patients in serious condition remain low due to the vaccine rollout, but infection cases in Tokyo were rising due to the spread of the Delta variant.
"We must avoid another outbreak starting in Tokyo. With that in mind, we decided to take preemptive measures, and declare a state of emergency for Tokyo once again," Suga was quoted as saying by the public broadcaster, NHK.
With two weeks until the Olympic Games, Suga pledged safety above all.
"Holding a safe and secure Games amid the coronavirus pandemic is a good opportunity to show our global unity to overcome the current difficulties together," he said.
Infection cases in the capital have been going up.
Health authorities reported 896 new infections on Thursday, marking the 19th straight day cases have gone up compared to the week before.
Japan has so far reported 811,712 coronavirus cases, with 14,897 deaths.
At least 37,214,200 vaccine doses against Covid-19 have been administered in the country till date.