Japan puts Osaka, 2 other areas under virus semi-emergency

Japan puts Osaka, 2 other areas under virus semi-emergency

TOKYO — Japan designated Osaka and two other areas for new virus control steps on Thursday as infections there rise less than four months before the Tokyo Olympics.

Osaka, neighboring Hyogo and Miyagi in the north have had sharp increases in daily cases since early March, soon after Japan scaled down a partial and non-binding state of emergency that began in January. Japan lifted the state of emergency in the Tokyo area on March 21, fully ending the measures aimed at slowing the coronavirus and relieving pressure on medical systems treating COVID-19 patients.

Experts have raised concerns about Osaka’s rapid spike — with many cases linked to new variants of the virus from Britain — and the burden on health care.

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Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, at a government task force meeting Thursday, designated the three prefectures for pre-emergency status under a new prevention law beginning next Monday. The measure lasts until May 5 when Japan’s “Golden Week” of spring

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