Japan lifts COVID-19 emergency for 39 of 47 prefectures

Tokyo: The Japanese government on Thursday decided to lift a nationwide state of emergency for 39 of the country's 47 prefectures where the COVID-19 has been less prevalent, with the move coming ahead of the planned deadline of May 31.

"Japan will lift a state of emergency for 39 of the country's 47 prefectures ahead of its planned expiration at the end of the month, as the spread of the novel coronavirus in these areas has been kept in check," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced.

The areas remaining under the state of emergency comprise urban areas such as Tokyo and the wider metropolitan area and Osaka prefecture, among others, that have been harder-hit by the virus.

Abe first declared a month-long state of emergency for Tokyo and six other prefectures on April 7, but this was expanded to cover the entire nation on April 16, in part to dissuade large numbers of people crossing prefectural lines during the five-day Golden Week holidays.

The state of emergency was originally scheduled to end on May 6, the last day of the Golden Week holidays.

As of Thursday, the number of coronavirus cases in Japan increased to 16,049, with 687 deaths.

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