Japan declares emergency for COVID-19

Japan declares emergency for COVID-19
Commuters ride a train on Tuesday in Tokyo. (AP/PTI)
Tokyo, Apr 7 (IANS) | Publish Date: 4/7/2020 8:56:19 AM IST

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday declared a state of emergency in several regions of the country, a move that expands the powers of the local authorities in containing the spread of COVID-19.

Abe made the declaration in a meeting in Tokyo with a government group specially appointed to handle the health crisis and after securing the approval of Parliament, reports Efe news.

The state of emergency came into effect on Tuesday in the Tokyo metropolitan area and six other prefectures - Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Osaka, Hyogo, Fukuoka - and will end on May 6.

It will allow authorities of the prefectures to impose a series of restrictions on citizens and companies to curb the increase in coronavirus infections.

In his address during the meeting broadcast by local TV channels, Abe asked citizens to avoid stepping out of their homes as far as possible until the end of the state of emergency to protect the lives and health of the Japanese people.

The Prime Minister, who, like the others present at the meeting, sported a face mask, requested the Japanese for all possible cooperation to prevent a drastic increase in the number of infections.

The state of emergency allows governments of Tokyo and the six other prefectures to order the closure of schools, commercial establishments, entertainment spaces, and sports and cultural event venues.

This measure, however, is far from more drastic measures imposed in other countries, such as Spain or Italy, where the entire population has been confined with sanctions for those who do not comply.

Abe said it was important for each citizen to change their actions and added that economic and social services could remain operational as long as gatherings were avoided.

This is the first time in Japan’s history that the measure has been applied.

The development comes as Japan has recorded 3,906 coronavirus cases, with 92 deaths.

UK PM Johnson in intensive care

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was in intensive care on Tuesday after receiving oxygen support for serious COVID-19 complications while his foreign minister took over the helm of government as the outbreak accelerated. The upheaval of Johnson’s personal battle with the virus has shaken the government just as the United Kingdom enters what scientists say will be the most deadly phase of the pandemic, which has killed 5,373 people in Britain and 70,000 worldwide.

Johnson, 55, was admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital across the River Thames from the House of Commons late on Sunday after suffering persistent coronavirus symptoms, including a high temperature and a cough, for more than 10 days. But his condition rapidly deteriorated over the next 24 hours, and he was on Monday moved to an intensive care unit, where the most serious cases are treated, in case he needed to be put on a ventilator. He was still conscious, his office said. “He’s not on a ventilator, no,” Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove told LBC radio on Tuesday. “The prime minister has received some oxygen support and he is kept under, of course, close supervision.”

“The prime minister is in intensive care,” Gove said. “He’s a man of great zest and appetite for life.”

China reports no deaths for first time

China reported no coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, the first time since it started publishing daily figures in January following the emergence of the virus in Wuhan city last December, according to the country’s National Health Commission.

The Commission said it had 32 confirmed cases, down from 39 on Monday, reports the BBC.

All of the confirmed cases were imported, it added. Total number of coronavirus cases in China as of Tuesday was 82,697, while the death toll stood at 3,335.

Although other countries like the US and Italy have surpassed China in terms of both cases and deaths, the Asian giant was concerned that a second wave of infections could be brought in by foreign arrivals.

It has already shut its border to foreigners including those with visas or residence permits, the BBC reported. International flights have been reduced with both Chinese and foreign airlines only allowed to operate one international flight a week.


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