U.S. Sounds Alarm on Coronavirus in Japan, Tokyo Pushes for State of EmergencyPosted: April 4, 2020 | |
The U.S. government on Friday sounded alarm about the surge in coronavirus cases in Japan, adding to a chorus of prominent domestic voices – including the governor of Tokyo – who have called for decisive action to avoid an explosive outbreak.
Amid growing clamour for tighter curbs on people’s movements to stem a rising tide of infections, the government has so far been reluctant to pull the trigger, warning of the heavy damage that could ensue in the world’s third-biggest economy, already close to recession.
Instead, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has urged school closures and called on citizens to avoid unnecessary and non-urgent gatherings and outings while preparing to roll out an economic stimulus plan next week – even as he acknowledged the country was barely avoiding a major jump in infections.
But the warning from the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo to American citizens on Friday singled out Japan’s lack of widespread testing so far and gave a sobering assessment of the potential strain on the health care system in a widespread outbreak.
“The Japanese Government’s decision to not test broadly makes it difficult to accurately assess the COVID-19 prevalence rate,” the Embassy said on its website, referring to the illness caused by the virus.
“While we have confidence in Japan’s health care system today, we believe a significant increase in COVID-19 cases makes it difficult to predict how the system will be functioning in the coming weeks.”
If U.S. citizens wanted to return to the United States from Japan they should do so now, or risk remaining abroad for an “indefinite period”, it said.
Japan has so far been spared the kind of explosive surge seen in parts of Europe, the United States and elsewhere, with about 3,000 cases and some 73 deaths so far. Globally, coronavirus cases surpassed 1 million on Thursday, while deaths have topped 50,000.
The comments from the Embassy came after Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said declaring a national state of coronavirus emergency would send a “strong message” that could help avoid an bigger outbreak, her most explicit nudge so far to the government.
That would give governors legal authority to ask people to stay home and businesses to close, but not to impose the kind of lockdowns seen in other countries. In most cases … (read more)
Source: The Asahi Shimbun