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Japan's PM expected to extend state of emergency until end-May: NHK

NHK Japan’s Abe to consult with experts to extend state of emergency until May 31

The Japanese government on Monday officially announced its decision to extend the nationwide state of emergency imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, by almost a month until May 31.

"The area covered is all prefectures in the nation", Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said after a meeting held to discuss the measures on Monday.

After an advisory panel of medical experts approved the extension in the morning, the government notified the parliament of the decision.

Japan's economy minister said earlier the country could also ease some of the current coronavirus-related curbs on economic activity by allowing places such as parks and museums to reopen, provided proper preventive measures were in place.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said she had asked Abe's minister responsible for the virus outbreak Yasutoshi Nishimura about the government's plan for an extension. The state of emergency was initially set to expire Wednesday, the last day of the Golden Week holiday period in Japan.

They are: the number of new cases over the most recent two to three weeks; the ratio of infections where the route of transmission is unknown; whether diagnostic testing is being conducted adequately; whether hospitals have the capacity to deal with new COVID-19 patients; and whether the virus has spread to nearby prefectures.

Currently, the seven prefectures first targeted for the state of emergency are among 13 prefectures designated by the government as needing special caution. While requests to refrain from going out for non-essential tasks and closure of businesses will remain in effect in the core affected prefectures like Tokyo, Chiba, and Osaka, the restrictions will be relaxed in less-affected prefectures. It was expanded to all of Japan on April 16.

He added that the planned reopening of public facilities will be allowed in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Hokkaido, Fukuoka and eight other prefectures that the government has singled out for taking stepped-up measures against the virus.

The government has been calling for a cut of as much as 80 percent in person-to-person contact and a 70 percent reduction in commuting.

The declaration gives prefectural governors the authority to expropriate private land and buildings to provide medical care.