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07 Apr 2020 | 09:54 AM UTC

Japan: Prime Minister declares state of emergency for seven prefectures April 7 - May 6 /update 17

Prime Minister Abe Shinzo declares a state of emergency for Tokyo and six other prefectures from April 7 until May 6 due to COVID-19; follow all government directives

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Event

Prime Minister Abe Shinzo declared a state of emergency for Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Osaka, Hyogo, and Fukuoka prefectures from Tuesday, April 7, through Wednesday, May 6. The declaration was made at a meeting of the government's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) taskforce at the prime minister's office on Tuesday. Prime Minister Shinzo stated that there would be no lockdown and that public transport and other essential services needed to keep the economy and society going will be maintained as much as possible. However, the declaration authorizes governors in these prefectures to request that residents stay at home except for when conducting essential tasks, such as food shopping or seeking medical care. It also permits governors to close schools, public venues, and other facilities, amongst other emergency powers.

The Japanese government announced on Tuesday, March 31, that it will be extending an entry ban to foreign nationals from 49 more countries, including the US, Canada, China, South Korea, as well as most European countries and some parts of Southeast Asia, due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The updated list will cover a total of 73 countries, which can be found here. Foreign travelers who have been to these areas in the preceding 14 days will be prohibited from entering Japan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also advised its citizens against non-essential travel abroad, particularly to the countries mentioned in the latest measures. The 2020 Olympics, originally set to take place in Tokyo, has also been pushed back to 2021 due to concerns about the virus.

As of April 7, authorities have confirmed 3906 COVID-19 cases in Japan, including 92 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is likely over the coming weeks.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) characterized the virus as a "pandemic."

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.