TOKYO, Jan 20 — Japan’s western prefecture of Osaka and two neighbouring regions are expected to join in a widening declaration of Covid-19 prevention measures, Osaka’s governor said today.

Japan added more than 41,000 new Covid-19 infections yesterday as the Omicron variant spread, a tally by national broadcaster NHK showed, breaking a record for two consecutive days.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida decided on Wednesday to expand the measures to cover the capital Tokyo and a dozen other regions. If the restrictions are widened to include Osaka and its two neighbors, 63 per cent of the nation’s total population – or just under 80 million people – would live under the measure.

Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura said the prefecture would hold a meeting on Friday to determine whether to apply for measures referred to as quasi-emergency that allow governors to request restaurants and bars shorten business hours and stop serving alcohol.

Yoshimura said he was coordinating with the prefectural governors of Kyoto and Hyogo on making a joint request.

“I think the three prefectures will probably join together to request the quasi-emergency measures (tomorrow),” Yoshimura said.

Yoshimura said he expected Osaka would log roughly 6,000 new infections on Thursday, close to the record number seen yesterday. — Reuters