Japan declares state of emergency in hopes of getting ahead of virus
Despite avoiding the large number of deaths seen in other countries, Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has declared a month-long state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to The Guardian, the country also unveiled a record stimulus package aimed at successfully steering its economy through the crisis.
Abe told a televised news conference a recent sharp rise in COVID-19 cases in Tokyo and other urban areas forced him to rethink Japan’s approach towards defeating the outbreak.
“We are not at a stage where rapid nationwide spread is being observed, but some areas are under pressure, so we don’t have the luxury of time,” he said, adding that the rise in infections was straining the country’s health service.
“To relieve that pressure there will have to be a transformation in people’s behavior,” he said. “Preventing an explosion in cases, saving people in serious conditions and protecting you and your loved ones depends on how we change our behavior.”
Abe asked people to practice social distancing by reducing their contact with others by 70-80%. He also called on non-essential workers to work from home and for companies to stagger shifts for employees who cannot work remotely.
The state of emergency will last until 6 May and initially apply to Tokyo and six other prefectures: Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama prefectures, which border the capital, Osaka and neighbouring Hyogo in the west, and Fukuoka in the south-west.
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