Japan declared a state of emergency Tuesday as the number of coronavirus cases surge in the country.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signed the one-month order for Tokyo and six other districts, requesting — though not mandating — residents there to stay at home.
“The most important thing is for each one of us to change our activity,” Abe told a government task force as he urged residents to reduce their contacts with others by 70 to 80 percent for one month.
Abe described the coronavirus pandemic as “the biggest postwar crisis,” with nearly 4,000 cases reported in the country alongside more than 90 deaths.
The announcement came after a weekend with two consecutive days where the number of new COVID-19 cases increased by more than 100. The country has reported more than 1,000 new cases in April alone.
Abe had been under pressure to declare an emergency as more and more medical experts weighed in supporting such measures.
In addition to the stay-at-home request; the declaration of emergency offers guidance to schools on temporary closures and requests for the closure of nonessential businesses and stores. It also requests the cancellation or postponement of events and exhibits.
Abe’s administration also announced a $1-trillion stimulus package to bolster the country during the economic downturn to come.
A state of emergency could cause consumer spending to fall by roughly $23 billion, dropping Japan’s annual GDP by .4 percent, according to a recent report from Takahide Kiuchi, an economist at Nomura Research Institute.
Japan had differed from its neighbor in South Korea over how to curb the spread of the virus. Instead of rolling out a massive, sweeping testing regiment like Korea, Japan tried to stop COVID-19 by closely monitoring and controlling clusters sites for the virus.
But that technique has appeared to be faltering as the country reports sharp upticks in cases that are not connected to known patients.
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