Japan Declares State of Emergency Due to Coronavirus (Video)
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a state of emergency in Tokyo and six other prefectures on Tuesday.
The month-long state of emergency is not a lockdown, but rather a stay-at-home request. There will be no penalty for citizens who are out on the streets however the government recommends request that people cut their social contact by 70 to 80 percent, according to The Associated Press.
“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,” Abe said in a televised news conference on Tuesday, The Guardian reported. “To relieve that pressure there will have to be a transformation in people’s behavior. Preventing an explosion in cases, saving people in serious conditions and protecting you and your loved ones depends on how we change our behavior.”
The state of emergency will last until May 6 and will apply to Tokyo, as well as Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama prefectures, which border the capital. The prefectures of Osaka, Hyogo and Fukuoka are also included.
Schools have been closed for over a month and businesses have now been advised to close. Like the rest of the world, companies have been asked to have non-essential employees work from home or in shifts.
Japan saw a surge in coronavirus cases over the weekend with now more than 3,900 confirmed cases and 92 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins. More than 1,000 of those cases have been in Tokyo alone — adding to worries that Japan may not have enough ICU units and beds for patients with severe symptoms.
The worldwide pandemic also caused Japan to postpone the Summer Olympics, which were previously scheduled to begin in Tokyo in July 2020. The games will now be held in summer 2021.
Japan has been battling the coronavirus since the Diamond Princess cruise ship was quarantined at the port of Yokohama, beginning on February 4. The ship had 712 cases aboard.
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