Coronavirus News Asia

Japan expands virus emergency nationwide

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday expanded a state of emergency due to the coronavirus to cover the whole country to stem the growing spread of the disease.

The declaration allows regional governors to urge people to stay indoors, but with no punitive measures or legal force, the measure is far weaker than strict lockdowns seen in other parts of the world.

Abe had already declared a month-long state of emergency in seven regions, including Tokyo, where a recent spike in cases has prompted warnings that emergency medical facilities could collapse.

“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 called to discuss the disease.

He said the state of emergency would remain in force until May 6, urging the 126 million people in the country to form a “united front.”

With the world’s third-largest economy heading for a crippling recession, Abe also unveiled plans to distribute 100,000 yen ($930) to every citizen.

Since the initial emergency came into effect on April 8, several regional governors have called for the measures to be expanded to cover their areas – warning of a growing number of coronavirus infections and overwhelmed medical facilities.

Some have declared their own local emergencies, even though they carry no legal force.

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