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Okinawa declares state of emergency over coronavirus

Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki announces the prefecture's own state of emergency declaration over the coronavirus at the prefectural government office in Naha on Jan. 19, 2021. (Mainichi/Takayasu Endo)

NAHA -- Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki declared the prefecture's own state of emergency on Jan. 19 in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

    In addition to asking people to refrain from nonurgent and nonessential outings, he has requested that restaurants and other establishments across the southernmost prefecture close by 8 p.m. from Jan. 22 and professional baseball teams hold their spring training camps in the prefecture without spectators. Currently, eateries and other establishments in Naha and six other cities are asked to close by 10 p.m. The state of emergency is scheduled to last until Feb. 7.

    Gov. Tamaki plans to ask the national government to add Okinawa to the list of areas subject to the state of emergency declaration based on the Act on Special Measures for Pandemic Influenza and New Infectious Diseases Preparedness and Response and to seek the equivalent designation as a national state of emergency.

    This is the third time for the prefecture to declare its own state of emergency over the coronavirus, following April and July 2020.

    "We are on the verge of the medical system collapsing. We need your cooperation to stop the explosive spread of infections as soon as possible," Tamaki said.

    In Okinawa, the spread of infections has advanced since the beginning of January, with 130 new cases announced on Jan. 16 and 113 on Jan. 19. Currently, coronavirus patients are taking up 301 of 340 hospital beds available for such patients, bringing the hospital bed occupancy rate to 88.5%.

    The cooperation fee paid to businesses operating shortened hours in Okinawa is currently 40,000 yen per day, but this may be increased to 60,000 yen if the national government approves the addition of the area to the national emergency declaration or applies an equivalent status.

    (Japanese original by Takayasu Endo, Naha Bureau)

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