Japanese leader says coronavirus state of emergency not needed yet

Tokyo, Mar 14 (efe-epa).- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Saturday that it was not necessary to declare a state of emergency in the country over the coronavirus outbreak.

Abe said at a press conference to review the situation of Covid-19 in Japan, where there have been nearly 1,500 cases and 27 deaths, that the country must not let its guard down.

“The situation is continually changing, and therefore we will continue to monitor it very carefully,” he added.

Japanese parliament completed the legislative process on Friday to grant special powers to the government, including giving authorities the power to keep people in their homes.

It also authorised authorities to exclusive rights to purchase essential materials such as medicines and food, as well as to use private facilities to provide essential medical care.

“We are doing everything possible so that there is not a drastic increase in cases,” Abe said.

“Currently I do not consider that we are in a situation where we have to declare a state of emergency… I will take the decision when necessary.”

Among the measures adopted by the Japanese government have been the suspension of classes in schools and recommendations to avoid public events, including sports, cultural or political ones, where a large attendance was expected.

Abe said there will be a meeting of experts on 19 March to review the situation, which could see fresh measures imposed to deal with the pandemic, which originated in the Chinese province of Hubei in December.

When asked about the impact the coronavirus may have on the Olympic Games, which are due to begin in Tokyo on 24 July, Abe repeated that the organisers were continuing to make every effort to keep the start date.

He said the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will continue to monitor the evolution of the pandemic and will follow the recommendations made by the World Health Organization.

Greece was forced to cancel the Olympic torch’s eight-day relay through the country on Friday, one day after the lighting ceremony in ancient Olympia.

The flame is due to be handed over to Japan in Athens as scheduled on Thursday in an event without any spectators, according to the IOC. EFE-EPA


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