Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is seen moving closer to declaring a state of emergency in a matter of days, after confirmed coronavirus infections in Tokyo surged over the weekend to top 1,000 for the first time, a newspaper report said.
Abe will make public as soon as Monday his intention, with the declaration for the Tokyo area coming as early as Tuesday, the Yomiuri newspaper reported, without attribution. Osaka and Hyogo prefectures may also be under emergency, it said. Calls for more stringent measures to contain the deadly virus had been growing, as a recent spike in infections sparked concerns Japan is headed for a crisis on the levels seen in the U.S. and several countries in Europe.
The Japan Medical Association warned last week that the jump in cases in the nation’s most populous cities is putting more pressure on medical resources and that the government should declare a state of emergency. A poll conducted by broadcaster JNN showed 80% of respondents said the declaration should be made.
Tokyo reported 143 new coronavirus infections on Sunday, its largest single day. It marked the second straight day the city’s daily infection tally exceeded 100.
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Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has said an emergency declaration by the government will provide the legal background to implement a policy to prevent further spread. Abe told parliament Friday that the situation didn’t yet warrant an emergency declaration, but said he wouldn’t hesitate to do so if that time comes.
Declaring a state of emergency hands powers to local governments, including to urge residents to stay at home. By contrast with some other countries though, there is no legal power to enforce such requests. Japan’s confirmed cases exceeded 3,000 over the weekend — excluding those related to the Diamond Princess cruise ship — a jump from less than 500 just a month ago.
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