National Post (National Edition)
PM URGES CITIZENS TO RING IN A `QUIET NEW YEAR'
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga urged the nation on Friday to spend a quiet New Year period without the usual social gatherings to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which has been breaking infection records almost on a daily basis. Suga also announced a package of $2.6 billion for hospitals treating COVID-19 patients which have come under strain due to the rapid rise in cases across the northern island of Hokkaido as well as large cities like Tokyo and Osaka. “I want you to spend a quiet New Year,” the premier told a news conference in Tokyo. “The infections aren't coming down and if we keep going like this, we won't be able to avoid further spread of the virus.” Japan does not celebrate Christmas, but the New Year period is an extended national holiday, with many people travelling to their hometowns and spending time with family and friends. While Japan has avoided the huge infection numbers seen in other parts of the world, the number of new daily cases surpassed 3,000 for the first time this month. Tokyo reported 884 infections on Friday, near Thursday's record 888.