Japan sets up virus HQ in possible step towards state of emergency

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe can declare a state of emergency if the disease poses a ‘grave danger’ to lives. (AP pic)

TOKYO: The Japanese government was preparing to set up a special headquarters on coronavirus as early as Thursday afternoon, a step that could set the stage for declaring a state of emergency over the outbreak, Kyodo news agency reported, after the capital of Tokyo saw a sharp rise in cases this week.

Under a law revised earlier in March to cover the coronavirus, the prime minister can declare a state of emergency if the disease poses a “grave danger” to lives and if its rapid spread threatens serious economic damage. The virus has already increased Japan’s recession risk.

If a state of emergency is declared, governors in hard-hit regions would have to take steps such as asking people to stay home, closing schools and other public facilities and cancelling large events.

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