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Japan 'on the brink' as it struggles to hold back coronavirus


Japan will ban entry of foreigners from 73 countries and ask everyone arriving from abroad to quarantine for two weeks in its struggle to contain the coronavirus, with a senior minister warning the country had been pushed “to the brink”.

Medical experts advising Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a news conference on Wednesday that the rapid spread of contagion was severely straining hospitals in the capital Tokyo, in Osaka and some other prefectures, and that quick action was vital. “Fundamental responses should be made as early as today or tomorrow,” Shigeru Omi, head of the Japan Community Healthcare Organisation, said. He said the medical system could collapse even before an “overshoot” - or explosive rise in cases. Abe is facing growing public calls to declare a state of emergency that would give local governors greater clout to tell residents to stay home, close schools and take other steps. But the relevant enabling law includes no penalties in most cases. Many other countries hit by the pandemic have imposed legally binding lockdowns with serious penalties for violators. Japan had confirmed 2,362 domestically transmitted cases of the coronavirus and 67 deaths as of Wednesday, public broadcaster NHK said - relatively small tallies compared with those of the United States, China and Europe.

1 Aprial 2020


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