Japan governors seek stronger heath care as COVID curbs eased

Japanese prefectural governors on Saturday called on the new central government to strengthen the health care system, as the easing of COVID-19 restrictions could cause another resurgence of infections.

The National Governors’ Association want sufficient hospital beds, tests and treatments for the coronavirus to be ensured in a draft proposal to the government to be established by the presumed next Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

“Securing a medical system that can save peoples’ lives should be the foundation of an exit strategy,” the governors said in the draft proposal discussed at their online meeting held Saturday.

The latest proposal comes as the COVID-19 state of emergency was lifted in Tokyo and 18 other prefectures, and a quasi-state of emergency ended in eight additional areas on Friday. It marked the first time since April that the entire country was free from any such designation to curb infections.

Attendance caps at large-scale events such as concerts and sports games were loosened and restrictions on restaurant operators such as shortened hours and alcohol ban will be relaxed in stages.

The health ministry, at the same time, is reviewing the nationwide health care system in preparation for a possible sixth wave of coronavirus infections.

The governors said in the draft proposal to be submitted to the central government that Japan will for certain witness a sixth wave soon.

They also requested for government fiscal support to prop up their local economies.

“Our regional economies are falling into a critical situation,” the governors said.

Kishida, set to be elected prime minister at an extraordinary parliamentary session from Monday, has said he will compile “tens of trillions of yen” for a stimulus package by the end of the year.

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