All national papers reported that the GOJ has informally decided to end the coronavirus state of emergency for Tokyo and its three neighboring prefectures on March 21 even though cases have been on the rise in the nation’s capital for the past 10 days. Prime Minister Suga told the press last night that he will ask the coronavirus taskforce subcommittee on Friday to endorse the decision since the number of new patients and hospital bed occupancy rates have declined to a level that warrants lifting. Asked about the recent uptick in new cases in Tokyo, the prime minister simply stated that measures will be taken to prevent a resurgence. A total of 409 people tested positive in Tokyo yesterday, marking the first time in almost a month for the number of new cases per day to exceed 400. The four prefectural governments are set to ask local eateries to close by 9 p.m. even after the state of emergency is lifted to prevent a resurgence.
Some public health professionals reportedly called the move premature, citing emerging signs of a resurgence, the rapid spread of the UK variant, and only a moderate increase in the number of hospital beds secured for coronavirus patients as sources of concern. They emphasized the importance of conducting testing more broadly to detect early signs of the spread of emerging strains.