TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s expected extension of state of emergency curbs to combat COVID-19 heightens the chance the central bank will push back the current September deadline for a package of measures to cushion the economic blow from the health crisis.

Bank of Japan officials, including Governor Haruhiko Kuroda, have repeatedly said they will extend the pandemic-relief programme if needed to underpin a fragile recovery as the country struggles with a resurgence in infections.

The BOJ may decide on an extension as early as its rate review in June, as the government looks to extend the curbs by three weeks, the Nikkei newspaper reported.

The government is likely to decide on Friday to extend the current state of emergency curbs until June 20, according to Japanese media reports.

The BOJ last year ramped up asset purchases and put in place a loan programme aimed at channeling money to cash-strapped small firms to cushion the blow from the health crisis.

Many analysts have seen an extension to the BOJ’s relief measures as a done deal, as slow vaccine rollouts and a resurgence in infections weigh on an already weak economy.

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