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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: 497790

Reported Deaths: 9917
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34102530
DeSoto31839398
Hinds31837622
Jackson24314377
Rankin21881388
Lee15427234
Madison14525279
Jones13772241
Forrest13412250
Lauderdale11937314
Lowndes10934185
Lamar10470135
Pearl River9431237
Lafayette8454138
Hancock7697126
Washington7365156
Oktibbeha7111129
Monroe6727174
Warren6642176
Pontotoc6609101
Neshoba6606205
Panola6460131
Marshall6386132
Bolivar6266145
Union596094
Pike5784152
Alcorn5633101
Lincoln5417134
George491879
Scott470998
Tippah465381
Prentiss464181
Leflore4627143
Itawamba4596104
Adams4570119
Tate4546109
Copiah445191
Simpson4421116
Wayne438572
Yazoo438586
Covington427394
Marion4216107
Sunflower4215104
Coahoma4115104
Leake407787
Newton380879
Grenada3692108
Stone358464
Tishomingo356391
Attala330289
Jasper328265
Winston313191
Clay306375
Chickasaw296767
Clarke290694
Calhoun277945
Holmes266987
Smith262550
Yalobusha232647
Tallahatchie225251
Walthall217763
Greene215548
Lawrence211140
Perry204755
Amite203954
Webster201645
Noxubee185340
Montgomery179056
Jefferson Davis170642
Carroll167438
Tunica158639
Benton147438
Kemper141241
Choctaw133026
Claiborne131237
Humphreys129038
Franklin119128
Quitman106227
Wilkinson104539
Jefferson94234
Sharkey64020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 813481

Reported Deaths: 15179
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1139971910
Mobile722271323
Madison51970686
Shelby37279341
Baldwin37069540
Tuscaloosa34934599
Montgomery33953725
Lee23142240
Calhoun22142470
Morgan20639372
Etowah19758496
Marshall18245300
Houston17302405
St. Clair15912337
Cullman15306290
Limestone15202198
Elmore15075284
Lauderdale14143294
Talladega13715272
DeKalb12569259
Walker11085366
Blount10094174
Autauga9893146
Jackson9789180
Coffee9182189
Dale8859181
Colbert8789200
Tallapoosa7044195
Escambia6732127
Covington6682179
Chilton6587160
Russell625958
Franklin5930105
Chambers5559142
Marion4955126
Dallas4882199
Clarke472782
Pike4719105
Geneva4564126
Winston4473101
Lawrence4264117
Bibb421686
Barbour355475
Marengo334089
Monroe330262
Randolph327063
Butler324794
Pickens313882
Henry310965
Hale309187
Cherokee299957
Fayette290679
Washington250951
Cleburne246958
Crenshaw243575
Clay240367
Macon230562
Lamar215846
Conecuh185652
Coosa178538
Lowndes173761
Wilcox167438
Bullock151744
Perry138040
Sumter131038
Greene125544
Choctaw86927
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A cold front passing through our area overnight will bring into our area some of the coolest temperatures of the season so far. We will see most of the highs this weekend only in the upper 60s to lower 70s. While overnight lows will drop off down into the 40s Saturday night.
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