Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said he will declare a state of emergency for Tokyo and six other prefectures as early as Tuesday to fight the coronavirus outbreak but there will be no hard lockdowns.
Mr Abe also told reporters his government will launch a 108 trillion yen economic stimulus package to help counter the economic impact of the pandemic, including cash payouts to households in need and support to protect businesses and jobs.
The prime minister said experts on a government-commissioned task force urged him to get a state of emergency ready as the Covid-19 outbreak is rapidly expanding in major cities including Tokyo.
He said the state of emergency will cover Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka and four other hard-hit prefectures, and will be in effect for about a month.
He said the measure is intended to further reinforce social distancing between people to slow the spread of the outbreak, and to continue to keep social and economic activities to a minimum.
Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike said the city will start transferring patients with no or slight symptoms from hospitals to hotels and other accommodation to make room for an influx of patients with severe symptoms.
Japan’s health ministry has confirmed 3,654 cases of coronavirus, including 84 deaths, as well as another 712 infections and 11 fatalities on a cruise ship that was quarantined in the port of Yokohama near Tokyo earlier this year.