Japan widens virus emergency for 7 more areas as cases surge

TOKYO (AP) — Japan is expanding a coronavirus state of emergency for seven more prefectures, affecting more than half the population as infections spread across the country. Prime Minister Yoshide Suga also said Japan will suspend fast-track business entry permits, fully banning foreign visitors while the state of emergency is in place. Suga’s announcement comes less than a week after he declared a state of emergency for Tokyo and three nearby prefectures. The new declaration, which adds seven other prefectures in western and central Japan, takes effect Thursday and lasts until Feb. 7. Suga has been criticized as being to slow to act as the country’s number of reported coronavirus infections and deaths roughly doubled over the past month to about 300,000 and 4,100.