Japan to extend state of emergency until May 31

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Japan is on Monday set to extend the state of emergency in place during the coronavirus pandemic by nearly a month, as it is still reporting hundreds of new infection cases daily.

The government plans to extend the nationwide state of emergency until May 31, Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of economic revitalization, told a government panel on Monday morning, Deutsche press agency (dpa) reported.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will hold a news conference later in the day to announce a final decision.

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Japan on Sunday reported 199 new cases and 18 deaths from the Covid-19 respiratory disease caused by the virus, according to a Kyodo News tally.

The country has so far confirmed 15,771 cases, including 712 on a cruise ship quarantined near Tokyo in February, and 548 deaths as of Sunday, 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.

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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, 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.

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