TOKYO/KUALA LUMPUR: The Japanese government plans to extend a state of emergency in and around Tokyo until the last week of September in a further bid to contain the coronavirus epidemic, the Mainichi newspaper reported on Saturday.
Japan last month expanded emergency curbs of its population until Sept 12, but the number of severe cases and the strain on the medical system have not eased sufficiently in Tokyo and surrounding areas to allow the restrictions to be lifted.
The government plans to extend them by about two weeks in Tokyo and neighbouring Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba prefectures, the Mainichi said, without citing sources.
Under the state of emergency, the government has sought to reduce foot traffic by asking restaurants to shorten their hours and refrain from serving alcohol, and companies to let staff work from home more frequently.
The extension would take the curbs through the fourth week of September, which has two public holidays and during which many people make travel plans.
The government will also consider an extension in hard-hit areas in central and western Japan, including Aichi — home of Toyota Motor — and Osaka, the paper said, adding a decision would likely be made in the middle of next week.
It will consider downgrading or lifting states of emergency in prefectures that have seen hospital beds free up to non-critical levels, the Mainichi said.
Japan is battling its fifth and biggest wave of Covid-19 cases, driven by the highly infectious Delta variant. On Friday, new daily nationwide cases hit 16,729, with 63 deaths.
Malaysia makes ousted PM head of recovery body
Malaysia’s former leader was selected to head the country’s Covid-19 recovery council, an official said on Saturday, just weeks after he was removed from office.
Muhyiddin Yassin fell from power last month after rising anger over his government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
But a cabinet decision has now appointed him as the coronavirus body’s chairman as well as a minister, government chief secretary Mohamad Zuki Ali said.
Mohamad said the ex-leader, who ruled for 17 months, would “lead the country’s recovery strategy, to achieve the best economic impact, and restore the lives of the people” in the virus-battered country.
Muhyiddin resigned as the Southeast Asian nation’s eighth premier on August 21 after several coalition allies withdrew their support for him, ending his razor-thin parliamentary majority.
He took office in March last year, rising to power in time for the pandemic to break out in Malaysia.
Though at first successful in curbing the virus with heavy restrictions, Muhyiddin faced growing public anger over his administration’s inability to contain outbreaks of Covid-19 variants.
Malaysia has recorded more than 1.8 million infections since the beginning of the pandemic, with a current rate of about 20,000 new cases and hundreds of deaths every day.
Muhyiddin’s fall saw Ismail Sabri Yaakob, a senior leader in his coalition, take over.
Backed by support from Muhyiddin and his allies, he then reshuffled the cabinet, keeping many of the ex-premier’s allies on board.
Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2021