TOKYO, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) -- The Japanese government declared Wednesday to expand the COVID-19 state of emergency to Hokkaido, Miyagi, Gifu, Aichi, Mie, Shiga, Okayama and Hiroshima amid the country's latest resurgence of infections.
Tokyo and 12 other prefectures have already been covered by the emergency state.
The measures will come into effect on Friday in the newly added eight prefectures and last until Sept. 12 in all areas under the state of emergency.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga finalized the decision at a task force meeting following approval by a panel of experts on infectious diseases and other fields.
Under the state of emergency, restaurants are requested not to offer alcohol or provide karaoke service, and are instructed to close by 8:00 p.m. local time. Major commercial facilities such as department stores are asked to limit the number of customers.
Suga has also called on foot traffic in crowded areas to be cut by 50 percent and for firms to have employees work from home and cut commuters by 70 percent.
The government will also expand the quasi-state of emergency currently covering 16 prefectures to another four, which are Kochi, Saga, Nagasaki and Miyazaki. The 16 prefectures include the eight to be newly added to areas under the state of emergency.
With the latest addition, 33 prefectures, or around 70 percent of Japan's 47 prefectures will be covered from Friday by some form of measures to battle against the spread of COVID-19.
Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of the COVID-19 response, said medical services will be immediately revamped in the prefectures under the state of emergency, and that thorough anti-infection actions will be in place at schools as they reopen for the new term, according to local media.
Tokyo confirmed 4,228 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday.
Hospitals are struggling to tackle the surge in patients in severe condition, as a shortage of beds forced many with milder symptoms to stay at home.
The country's vaccination drive has fallen behind other developed nations, with about 40 percent of the population having received two shots of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said the government is considering a plan to use some reserve funds for fiscal 2021 set aside for COVID-19 countermeasures to secure additional vaccines. Enditem