Japan Declares COVID-19 Curbs in 3 Regions Hosting U.S. Bases

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has declared three regions hit by surging COVID-19 cases under a quasi-state of emergency on Friday.

Kishida said the quasi-emergency declaration for Okinawa, Yamaguchi, and Hiroshima would be from January 9 to January 31, allowing the regional districts to strengthen their anti-coronavirus measures as health experts warn of a sixth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

The Health Ministry has recorded new infections exceeding 4,000 nationwide on Wednesday as the Omicron variant cases continue to rise in the regions.

“There are cases where there is no history of overseas travel, and the route of infection is unknown, while the Delta strain also continues to spread,” Health Minister Shigeyuki Goto said.

“We need to keep in mind that a further, rapid acceleration in the spread of infections is on the horizon,” Goto added.

The U.S. military bases in all three regions announced stricter infection controls on Thursday after on-base outbreaks appeared to have spilled into surrounding communities.

Okinawa, home to almost 70% of U.S. military facilities in Japan, has been the hardest hit so far in what seems to be the nation’s sixth wave of the pandemic.

Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki said the case numbers “will likely stay high and steadily increase.”

Meanwhile, Kishida stressed the need for the United States to take stricter anti-virus measures at U.S. military bases in Japan.

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