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Coronavirus

Japan Announces Easing of Virus Emergency Ahead of Olympics

TOKYO — Japan has announced the easing of a coronavirus state of emergency in Tokyo and six other areas from next week, as the country begins final preparations for the Olympics starting in just over a month.

Japan has been struggling since late March to slow a wave of infections propelled by more contagious variants, with new daily cases soaring above 7,000 at one point and seriously ill patients straining hospitals in Tokyo, Osaka and other metropolitan areas.

Daily cases have since subsided significantly, paving the way for Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to downgrade the state of emergency when it expires on Sunday to less stringent measures. They will last until July 11. The Summer Olympics are scheduled for July 23-Aug. 8.

Suga said the relaxed measures will focus on early closures of bars and restaurants.

If another surge occurs and strains hospitals, “we will quickly take action, including strengthening of the measures,” the prime minister said, addressing concerns by medical experts.

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