The Japanese government is on a high alert after cases of a purportedly more contagious variant of the coronavirus were found in people with no recent history of overseas travel.
Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide held an online meeting on Tuesday with the governors of seven prefectures that were added to a coronavirus state of emergency last week.
Suga asked them to persuade younger people to take measures to avoid infection. They also agreed to join hands in securing hospital beds for coronavirus patients.
Despite the state of emergency, case counts across the county have not been fallen. The nationwide death toll exceeded 100 to hit a record high on Tuesday.
Japan's health ministry announced on Monday that three people in Shizuoka Prefecture have tested positive for the virus variant prevalent in Britain.
Public health officials suspect that they contracted the variant through community-acquired infections since they have no recent history of overseas travel and no known contact with people infected inside Japan.
The government plans to work with local authorities to identify the infection routes and step up monitoring to stop the variant from spreading .
Authorities are also working on a schedule for a vaccine rollout. It considers prioritizing healthcare workers and senior citizens, and plans to start vaccinating the rest of the population from around May at the earliest.
There is a call within the government to make use of the national system of individual ID numbers to create a database for the vaccination program. But others say it would be technically difficult.