World

Japan declares month-long state of emergency over coronavirus

TOKYO : Japan yesterday declared a month-long state of emergency over a spike in coronavirus cases, ramping up efforts to contain infections but stopping short of the strict lockdowns seen in other parts of the world.

The government has come under mounting pressure to tackle an outbreak that remains small by global standards but has raised concerns among Japanese medical experts, with warnings that the local healthcare system is already overstretched.

Announcing the measures, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged the Japanese people to draw on the sense of togetherness seen after the country's devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown in 2011.

"We are again facing a great difficulty. However, if we work together once again with hope, we will rise to the challenge and move forward," he said.

"We will beat the virus, we will defeat the virus and we can overcome the ordeal of this state of emergency."

The move allows governors in seven affected regions including Tokyo to ask people to stay indoors and request that businesses close, but there are no enforcement mechanisms and no penalties for those who fail to comply.

"Although a state of emergency is declared, it won't mean a city lockdown as seen overseas," Mr Abe said, pledging public transport would run as normal and roads would not be blocked.

But he urged people to take the declaration seriously, telling citizens "everything will depend on your actions".

And he warned that people would have to reduce contact by 70 per cent to 80 per cent if the emergency was to be lifted in a month.- AFP

WORLD