The 34 prefectures that aren’t designated as “special alert” will see a partial easing of restriction requests once the spread of the virus comes under better control, Nishimura said in a video conference with the governors of Tokyo and Osaka. The 13 prefectures that do have that status can expect a more concrete explanation on Monday, he said.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said yesterday he is leaning toward extending the country’s national virus emergency into June with a final decision on any such move likely on Monday. Japan has 14,305 confirmed coronavirus cases and 455 deaths from the disease, far below levels seen in the US and parts of Europe.
The country’s state of emergency, which enables regional governors to instruct businesses to close down and ask people to stay at home as far as possible, was initially set to end May 6.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura asked Nishimura for the national government to swiftly put support measures into law, including assistance for businesses’ rent payments. They also asked that regional administrations be given more power to seek cooperation on responding to the pandemic.
Nishimura said Saturday that the government has begun the process for getting special approval for the antiviral drug Remdesivir. Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said in a separate briefing that related ordinances are being revised as part of this process.
“I’ve given orders so that the environment is there to enable the drug to be approved in around a week’s time,” Kato told reporters.