Japan shuts over 300 child care centers amid virus spike

Gov’t mulling to expand enhanced restrictions to halt spread of COVID-19.

Japan shuts over 300 child care centers amid virus spike

Amid the resurgence of coronavirus due to the highly transmissible omicron variant, as many as 327 child care centers have been shut down in Japan, local media reported on Monday.

The figure increased fourfold in a week along with the spike in COVID-19 cases, and exceeded the previous high of 185 in September 2021, Kyodo News quoted the Japanese Health Ministry as saying.

The day-care centers are mostly used by couples where both parents work, and their closure could disturb their work lives.

Meanwhile, Japan is mulling to expand the quasi-state of emergency to 34 of the country's 47 provinces, the prime minister said. Currently, 16 provinces, including the capital Tokyo, are under enhanced restrictions.

The measure will impose restrictions such as shorter opening hours for restaurants and bars, and a final decision will be made after consultation with an advisory panel of experts on Tuesday, Fumio Kishida told reporters.

The 18 prefectures that will join the list include the northernmost main island of Hokkaido as well as Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo in western Japan, along with Fukuoka in the southwest.

The rest are Aomori, Yamagata, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Ishikawa, Nagano, Shizuoka, Shimane, Okayama, Saga, Oita and Kagoshima.

The Southeast Asian country confirmed a record 54,576 COVID-19 infections on Saturday, pushing the overall caseload to 2.16 million, including 18,506 related deaths. Nearly 80% of the estimated 126 million population is fully vaccinated.