İrem UZUN -TDO- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday he is seeking to extend the nationwide state of emergency imposed over the COVID-19 pandemic by about a month, after a government panel of experts recommended that the current measures be maintained for a while. "I will ask experts to thoroughly examine each region's situation and up-to-date data on infections and listen to their opinions before making my final decision on May 4," Abe told reporters at his office.
Normally, the emergency is due to expire on May 6, but Abe said the situation remains tough and further cooperation is needed from Japanese citizens. "Thanks to the efforts of our citizens, we have managed to avoid an explosion of cases as has been seen overseas," Abe told reporters on Friday evening. "But the medical situation remains tough and we must call for further cooperation from our nation". On Thursday, Abe addressed citizens to prepare for a "drawn-out battle" against the COVID-19. According to Reuters, political sources confirmed the government was planning to extend the emergency for about a month. The state of emergency was initially declared on April 7 for Tokyo, Saitama, Kanagawa, Chiba, Osaka, Hyogo and Fukuoka, seven provinces that had especially large numbers of coronavirus cases. It was expanded nationwide on April 16.
Japan has so far confirmed 14,088 cases, including about 700 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined near Tokyo in February. The death toll has reached to 430 as Friday evening.