Japan PM Suga shies away from calling state of emergency as coronavirus cases rise

(Reuters) – Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga reiterated there was no need for Japan to enter a national state of emergency, even as health groups declared their own state of emergency for the medical system as coronavirus infection rates continue to rise.

Suga said on Monday evening the head of the government’s expert panel on the coronavirus pandemic had told him “we’re not there yet” with regards to calling a state of emergency. Suga was responding during an interview on national television.

Suga has been struggling with falling approval ratings, with polls showing the public disapproves of how he has handled the pandemic.

“We need to show the results of our coronavirus countermeasures. I’ll spearhead the effort with a mindset to do everything that must be done,” Suga said.

Japan has seen a rise in new infection rates in recent weeks, with a record 2,154 people hospitalised as of Monday, according to national broadcaster NHK.

A group of national medical associations called their own state of medical emergency on Monday, warning the system was under considerable strain from the pandemic.