Japan Expands COVID-19 Coranavirus State of Emergency Nationwide

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is distributing reusable cloth masks to households across Japan

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is distributing reusable cloth masks to households across Japan

Japan was preparing to extend a state of emergency beyond major cities to the entire nation, media reported on Thursday, and a government official said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will change a draft supplementary budget to include cash payouts for everyone.

Tokyo is followed by Osaka, which has over 1,070 cases, Kanagawa with more than 720, and Chiba with about 630.

"Areas where a state of emergency should be carried out will be expanded from the seven prefectures to all prefectures", Abe told a special meeting of medical experts called to discuss the disease. Hokkaido had lifted its own three-week state of emergency on March 19, only to declare a second state of emergency on Sunday.

Just over 200 people have died from the virus in Japan, but Tokyo remains the hardest-hit area, reporting 201 new infections yesterday alone - a new record.

Yasutoshi Nishimura, Japan's minister in charge of issues related to the emergency declaration, said the inclusion of all prefectures was necessary before the Golden Week holidays start in late April.

The Korean Central News Agency also said that the country's borders would remain completely closed until COVID-19 infections are curbed globally.

Japan's emergency allows municipal authorities to urge people to stay indoors, but without legal force or punishments.

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Abe said numbers of new daily infections have not yet declined.

The "collapse of emergency medicine" has already happened, a precursor to the overall collapse of medicine, the Japanese Association for Acute Medicine and the Japanese Society for Emergency Medicine said in a joint statement.

"From the medical field, we are hearing cries of desperation that lives that can be saved may no longer be possible", Abe said Friday.

Unlike South Korea - which has brought its outbreak largely under control through a programme of large-scale testing - the Japanese government said that carrying out widespread testing was a "waste of resources".

The health ministry fears that hospitals could be overwhelmed by people who test positive, but only have mild symptoms.

"Even before the first wave from China had abated, a second wave began, with more than 300 infected people streaming in from Europe, Egypt, the USA and elsewhere", Oshitani said.

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