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As coronavirus expands in Japan, prime minister to declare state of emergency

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe takes off his mask as he speaks to reporters at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo on Monday.
(Yoshitaka Sugawara / Kyodo News via AP)

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that he would declare a state of emergency for Tokyo and six other prefectures as early as Tuesday to bolster measures to fight the coronavirus outbreak, but that there would be no hard lockdowns.

Abe also told reporters Monday that his government would launch a $1-trillion stimulus package to help counter the economic impact of the pandemic, including cash payouts to households in need and financial support to protect businesses and jobs.

Abe said experts on a government-commissioned task force urged him to prepare to declare a state of emergency, with the COVID-19 outbreak rapidly expanding in major cities, including Tokyo, overburdening hospitals and medical staff. He said the state of emergency would cover Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka and four other hard-hit prefectures, and be in effect for about a month.

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The prime minister said he would hold a news conference Tuesday to explain the state of emergency.

He said the measure was intended to further reinforce social distancing between people to slow the spread of the outbreak, and to continue to keep social and economic activities to a minimum.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said the city would start transferring patients with no or slight symptoms from hospitals to hotels and other accommodations to make room for an influx of patients with severe symptoms.

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Japan’s health ministry has confirmed 3,654 cases of the coronavirus, including 84 deaths, as well as an additional 712 infections and 11 fatalities on a cruise ship that was quarantined in the port of Yokohama near Tokyo earlier this year.


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