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Japan's hardest-hit region lifts coronavirus emergency

New cases plummet in Hokkaido but residents still told to stay home

Hokkaido is a popular destination among Chinese tourists.   © Reuters

SAPPORO, Japan -- The Japanese prefecture hardest hit by the new coronavirus is ending its state of emergency as planned on Thursday, saying infection risks are now "under a certain level of control."

The country's northernmost main island of Hokkaido still has the highest number of cases overall among Japan's 47 prefectures. But it found no new patients Wednesday for the first time in a month, thanks to expanded screening and treatment capacity, as well as greater information-gathering efforts.

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