Fri | Jun 5, 2020

Japan declares state of emergency, ramping up virus battle

Published:Tuesday | April 7, 2020 | 9:56 AM
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (right) declares a state of emergency during a meeting of the task force against the coronavirus at his official residence in Tokyo, Tuesday, April 7, 2020. (Franck Robichon/Pool Photo via AP)

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a monthlong state of emergency for Tokyo and six other prefectures on Tuesday to ramp up defences against the spread of the coronavirus as the number of infections surges.

But the move came in the form of a stay-at-home request — not an order — and violators will not be penalised.

The COVID-19 outbreak is now rampant and rapidly spreading, threatening people’s health, their daily lives and the economy, Abe said.

The state of emergency, which is until May 6, will only permit Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and heads of the six other prefectures to do more to reinforce calls for social distancing.

The announcement follows surges in new cases in Tokyo, including consecutive rises exceeding 100 over the weekend.

By Tuesday there were 1,196 confirmed cases in the metropolitan region of 14 million people. Nationwide, Japan has reported 91 deaths from COVID-19 and 3,906 confirmed cases, plus another 712 cases and 11 fatalities from a cruise ship that was quarantined earlier at Yokohama port near Tokyo.

Abe has been under pressure to declare a state of emergency to get better compliance with calls for social distancing amid rising alarm over the number of cases without any known contact with other patients.

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