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Japan to declare state of emergency over coronavirus pandemic

Much of Japan will enter a state of emergency as the country struggles to rein in the pandemic. CNN's Will Ripley reports.

Posted: Apr 7, 2020 9:41 PM
Updated: Apr 7, 2020 9:41 PM

Much of Japan will enter a state of emergency Tuesday, as the country struggles to rein in the coronavirus pandemic, months after the first domestic cases were reported.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that "basic economic activity" will continue in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Osaka, Hyogo and Fukuoka, the seven affected prefectures, with public transport and supermarkets remaining open, but urged people to exercise social distancing and avoid unnecessary trips.

The state of emergency, which is expected to be formally announced at a press conference Tuesday, will last for approximately one month. The declaration comes as Japan reported 252 new cases of the coronavirus and seven more deaths Monday, bringing the total number of infections to over 4,600, with 91 deaths.

Abe has faced criticism for not activating emergency measures earlier, as experts warned the true number of cases could be far higher than the official statistics suggest, due to a lack of widespread testing.

Growing concerns

The Japanese capital Tokyo is among one of the country's worst hit areas, and on Monday doctors in the city declared a state of medical emergency, citing a possible collapse of the healthcare system.

Ozaki Haruo, president of the Tokyo Medical Association, told reporters Monday that the rising number of coronavirus cases could result in a shortage of beds and the spreading of the virus within hospitals, according to Japanese public broadcaster NHK.

When this happens, medical staff will be unable to provide services to critically ill patients, Ozaki said, adding that the next six weeks will be critical in preventing an "explosive spread" of the virus.

Japan only has seven intensive care beds for every 100,000 people, a fifth of the proportion available in the US.

Part of the problem is that authorities had previously been urging anyone with symptoms to go to hospital, putting additional strain on the health care system. However, Dr. Yoshihiro Takayama, an infectious diseases specialist at Okinawa Chubu Hospital, said that the authorities are preparing to shift to a new policy of requiring those with mild symptoms to "self-isolate at home."

Takayama was concerned however that the number of cases could be far greater than it appears from the official statistics, due to the paucity of testing nationwide.

As of last week, Japan had only conducted some 30,000 tests, compared with almost 400,000 carried out in neighboring South Korea.

"In some cases, the number of patients may be several times, or could be ten times more. I think it is necessary to use such imagination and prepare the medical system to deal with it," Takayama said. "The battle has only just begun."

The country is also facing a potential shortage of ventilators for the worst affected. As of February, Japan was estimated to have more than 22,000 ventilators, for a population of over 126 million, according to a report in NHK.

At least 40% of those ventilators are already in use, as officials scramble to ramp up production and source new machines from overseas.

Slow response

Japan, with strong economic and transport links to China, was among the first countries to report cases of the coronavirus. For a long time, an outbreak on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, docked in Yokohama, was the worst outside mainland China.

Despite this long exposure to the virus, the country has been slow to take the kind of radical steps seen in many other parts of the world, and officials have faced accusations of deliberately dragging their feet to avoid greater damage to the economy after the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, which is expected to cause a big hit.

But experts have warned that the failure to respond quickly could result in a far worse situation.

"Japan needs to have the courage to change, when we are aware we are on the wrong path," said Kentaro Iwata, an infection control specialist from Kobe University, who has repeatedly warned that Japan isn't doing enough to halt the spread of the virus. "We might see the next New York City in Tokyo."

Iwata said that the situation in the Japanese capital is comparable to that in New York, Spain and Italy just before they saw explosions in the number of cases, and he called on the government to conduct more widespread testing in order to get an idea of the true number of infections.

The Japanese government says its testing regime is adequate and suitably targeted to high risk cases.

"Testing people with a low probability of novel coronavirus would be a waste of resources," Japan's Health Ministry told CNN in a statement. "We ask people with some symptoms to stay home for a period of time."

A government panel warned last week that hospitals and medical clinics in Tokyo, Aichi, Kanagawa, Osaka and Hyogo were already stretched and that "drastic countermeasures need to be taken as quickly as possible."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 153270

Reported Deaths: 3807
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10249104
Hinds10095199
Harrison7173111
Jackson6440124
Rankin5705103
Lee517095
Madison4902107
Forrest385986
Jones361788
Lauderdale3567147
Lafayette329752
Washington3197108
Lamar294750
Oktibbeha248462
Bolivar242484
Lowndes240464
Panola224852
Neshoba2225118
Marshall219450
Leflore206891
Pontotoc202429
Monroe201078
Lincoln192865
Sunflower191955
Warren177757
Tate175351
Union169526
Copiah165440
Pike163958
Yazoo157940
Scott156630
Itawamba155635
Pearl River153468
Alcorn152828
Coahoma151043
Simpson150353
Prentiss148431
Adams143151
Grenada141445
Leake138344
Holmes131561
Tippah126730
George126225
Covington124639
Winston123726
Hancock122840
Wayne119023
Marion117346
Attala116134
Tishomingo110042
Chickasaw108332
Newton107529
Tallahatchie97427
Clarke92453
Clay92327
Jasper83522
Stone78515
Calhoun77713
Walthall76929
Montgomery75425
Carroll73815
Lawrence72614
Smith72116
Yalobusha72028
Noxubee71917
Perry67726
Tunica61819
Greene60822
Claiborne58816
Jefferson Davis57817
Amite55214
Humphreys54319
Benton49618
Quitman4947
Webster45014
Kemper44218
Wilkinson40122
Jefferson35711
Franklin3485
Choctaw3457
Sharkey31717
Issaquena1174
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 247229

Reported Deaths: 3577
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson32718500
Mobile19904362
Madison13425148
Tuscaloosa13167154
Montgomery12380236
Shelby1046577
Baldwin882098
Lee778566
Morgan675150
Calhoun6366121
Etowah635166
Marshall630955
Houston532338
DeKalb489736
Cullman447442
Limestone430245
St. Clair425755
Lauderdale413354
Elmore409464
Walker3689111
Talladega353554
Jackson327123
Colbert314642
Blount294640
Autauga275142
Franklin254233
Coffee246515
Dale234454
Dallas226532
Chilton225038
Russell22313
Covington220334
Escambia198631
Chambers177250
Tallapoosa177091
Pike159214
Clarke158919
Marion141336
Winston134423
Lawrence129636
Pickens124218
Geneva12378
Marengo122524
Bibb118817
Barbour117511
Butler117342
Randolph103821
Cherokee102924
Hale97731
Fayette92216
Clay92024
Washington91619
Henry8676
Lowndes79929
Monroe79011
Cleburne77414
Macon74522
Crenshaw71230
Bullock70019
Perry6896
Conecuh68514
Lamar6838
Wilcox63918
Sumter58422
Greene42718
Choctaw42613
Coosa3464
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