Japan reinforces measures against surging COVID-19 cases

Tokyo, Apr 3 (efe-epa).- Japan is reinforcing its measures against coronavirus in the face of increasing cases, especially in Tokyo, where 89 more infections were reported on Friday.

The federal health ministry asked local governments to prepare tending to people with mild symptoms in their homes or in especially designated hotels, so that hospital beds are kept available for more severe cases.

This move came days after a government committee of experts warned of a possible collapse of the health system if the same trend of rising number of cases continued, especially in urban areas such as Tokyo and Osaka.

Experts have recommended drastic countermeasures as quickly as possible and urging the population of affected areas to limit their outdoor activities.

Until Thursday, the health ministry had recorded 3,329 cases of coronavirus infections and 74 deaths in Japan – including 712 cases and 11 deaths from the Diamond Princess cruise liner.

Of the total cases, 1,230 were confirmed over the last one week.

Tokyo, where another 89 cases were confirmed on Friday and more than 500 in the last week, accounted for more than a quarter of total cases in the archipelago.

The authorities in the Japanese capital have announced the closure of public facilities like schools, museums, zoos, parks – and cancellation of city-run events at least until May 6 in the face of increased infections.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, who for weeks has been asking people not to leave their homes unnecessarily, has advocated tele-working and urged the business sector to collaborate in this regard.

Without a state of emergency being declared, Tokyo’s major shopping malls and other businesses have voluntarily reduced their schedules and even shut down over the weekend.

The Japanese government has focused its containment strategy on identifying and controlling infection hotspots, including restaurants, bars and health centers.

The authorities had identified 26 hotspots in 14 of its 47 prefectures as of Mar. 31, double the number identified in its previous report earlier during the month.

The government has also been working on economic measures to alleviate the impact of the epidemic. On Friday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced an aid of 300,000 yen ($2,780) for families facing financial difficulty. EFE-EPA


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