Japan to extend COVID-19 curbs for 13 regions by three weeks

TOKYO, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister said on Wednesday that the government would extend COVID-19 restrictions in Tokyo and 12 prefectures by three weeks as the Omicron variant continued to spread.

Japan has been breaking daily records for coronavirus cases and deaths amid a surge in infections driven by the Omicron variant. read more

It will add one more prefecture to the list of regions facing quasi-emergency measures, including restrictions on the business hours of eateries, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters.

The central government will create about 1,000 temporary medical facilities treating coronavirus patients, together with Tokyo and Osaka regional governments, he added.

Japan has declared various levels of emergency multiple times during the two-year pandemic. A full state of emergency might involve closures of venues serving alcohol, attendance restrictions at sporting and cultural events, and fines for non-compliant businesses. So-called quasi measures allow regional governors to order curbs on social movement and business hours.

With Japan's borders shut for nearly two years, the lives of students and workers have been disrupted, prompting business leaders to warn about the possible economic impact, particularly amid a tight labour market. read more

However, Kishida said he would "think about appropriate actions" on what he called the strongest border rules among the Group of Seven wealthy nations, but did not signal any immediate easing.

Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Bernadette Baum

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