Japan expands state of emergency following coronavirus surge amid Olympics

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Japan on Friday extended a state of emergency to four more areas in addition to Tokyo and Okinawa following spikes in coronavirus cases as the country hosts the Olympics, according to the Associated Press.

The notice is in effect from Monday through Aug. 31 and covers the areas of Saitama, Kanagawa, Chiba and Osaka. The restrictions include an alcohol ban and restricted hours at restaurants and karaoke bars. Five other areas, including Kyoto, will be placed under less strict restrictions.

The state of emergency comes as Tokyo set an all-time high for new virus cases Wednesday, with more than 3,000 reported.

Officials said 2,995 people are hospitalized in Tokyo, accounting for almost half the current capacity of 6,000 beds, according to the AP. Despite the surge in new cases, experts and leaders have continued to argue that there is no evidence indicating that participants in the Olympics have spread the virus to the public. 

“I don’t think there have been any cases related to the Olympic Games,” Taro Kono, Japan’s vaccine minister, told the AP Wednesday. “We aren’t worried about that issue.” 

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike noted Friday that young people account for much of the spike in recent cases and implored them to “share the sense of crisis” by adhering to public safety measures and getting vaccinated, according to the Associated Press. 

As of Friday, Japan has vaccinated roughly 32.7 percent of the country’s population.

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