Japan has announced that its Covid curbs will be extended until the end of September in Tokyo, as well as other prefectures, to stop the spread of coronavirus and prevent hospitals from facing a greater strain.

After an advisory panel meeting on Thursday, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura unveiled Japan’s plans to keep the restrictions in place until September 30. While the minister noted that the domestic Covid situation is improving, he said it is “still too early to lower our guard.”

He also explained that if the number of infected citizens continues to decrease at the current rate, Japan’s medical facilities will be less stretched by the end of the month.

The proposal for the extended measures will be formalized at a government task force briefing later and announced by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga at a news conference.

Tokyo and Osaka are among the 19 areas that will be subject to prolonged curbs. Two regions have shifted to “priority measures,” meaning targeted restrictions will be implemented. A handful of prefectures, however, will have all limits removed.

Japan’s vaccination campaign has recently been hit by a number of defective batches of Moderna’s Covid jab, forcing authorities to halt the distribution of around 2.6 million doses after foreign matter was found in some of the vials. Three people also died after being inoculated, prompting a probe to determine the cause of the fatalities.

The East Asian nation has recorded over 1.6 million Covid infections and 16,490 deaths since the start of the pandemic, and is currently grappling with a fifth wave of coronavirus infections. Last month, Tokyo officials extended Covid restrictions to cover over 70% of the country’s population, just before the country’s official caseload hit one million while hosting the Olympic Games.

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