Japanese prefecture declares medical emergency

People wearing masks cross the famous scramble intersection near Shibuya Station in Tokyo.

Tokyo, (Asian independent)┬áJapan’s Osaka on Wednesday declared a state of medical emergency as hospitals in the western prefecture were overwhelmed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Osaka reported 878 new infections on Wednesday, the largest daily spike since the outset of the outbreak, reports dpa news agency.

The surge is attributed to more contagious variants of the coronavirus, Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura told a news conference.

The Governor also said he has decided not to hold the leg of the Olympic torch relay scheduled next week in the whole prefecture.

Osaka officials were in talks with the Olympic organising committee concerning alternate solutions, he added.

The central government issued a semi-state of emergency over the pandemic in the prefectures of Osaka, Miyagi and Hyogo on Monday amid fears of a new wave.

Hyogo confirmed a record 328 new cases on Wednesday, while Tokyo reported 555 new infections, the largest daily number in two months.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike told reporters she would ask the central government to extend the semi-state of emergency to the Japanese capital.

Tokyo “has been in a serious crisis”, said the Governor.

She also asked the capital city’s 13.9 million residents to “refrain from travelling to another prefecture” to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

Japan issued a coronavirus state of emergency in a total of 11 prefectures in January.

It was lifted in Tochigi in February and six other prefectures last month.

The government ended the measure in Tokyo and its neighbouring prefectures in late March.