Japan coronavirus: Okinawa governor fears ‘collapse’ of health care system, declares new state of emergency

Japan coronavirus: Okinawa governor fears ‘collapse’ of health care system, declares new state of emergency

  • Japanese government has resisted a return to restrictions in even the hardest-hit parts of the country, prompting Governor Denny Tamaki to act independently
  • US forces based in Okinawa have also been affected, accounting for 248 infections, but locals have also contributed to spreading the virus

Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki has reimposed a state of emergency, warning the rapid spread of coronavirus infections could lead to the “collapse” of the prefecture’s health care system. The Japanese government has resisted a return to restrictions in even the hardest-hit parts of the country, prompting Tamaki to act independently.

Tokyo reported 292 new cases on Sunday, the first time in four days the capital recorded fewer than 300 cases. That news was tempered by a nationwide figure of more than 1,300 new cases – more than 1,000 for the fifth day in a row.

Okinawa’s state of emergency will last until August 15 at the earliest. Local residents have been urged to stay at home except for essential travel. Restaurants and bars across Naha, the prefecture’s largest city, are being urged to close at 10pm.

“A dramatic surge in infections has been seen and the collapse of the prefecture’s health care system must be prevented at all costs,” Tamaki said during a press conference. “We are declaring a state of emergency to let you all know we are at a critical stage. The virus is spreading at an explosive pace. Our hospital beds have a 104.2 per cent occupancy rate.”

“I think the national government should also declare a state of emergency,” he added.