TOKYO (Agencies): The Japanese government was preparing to set up a special headquarters on coronavirus as early as Thursday (March 26) afternoon, a step that could set the stage for declaring a state of emergency over the outbreak, Kyodo news agency reported, after the capital of Tokyo saw a sharp rise in cases this week.
Under a law revised earlier in March to cover the coronavirus, the prime minister can declare a state of emergency if the disease poses a "grave danger" to lives and if its rapid spread threatens serious economic damage.
The virus has already increased Japan's recession risk.
Japan's health ministry and local governments reported onThursday that six new Covid-19 infections were confirmed in Gifu, Hiroshima and Okinawa prefectures, bringing the total number of people infected in Japan to 1,313 as of 11am local time.
The death toll in Japan from the pneumonia-causing virus currently stands at a total of 55 people, according to the health ministry, with the figure including those from the virus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined in Yokohama, close to Tokyo.
Of the 1,313 confirmed Covid-19 cases in Japan, the majority are still in Japan's capital city of Tokyo, which has confirmed 212 cases.
A day earlier, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike requested that people in Tokyo stay at home this weekend due to a spike in the number of infections recorded in the capital recently.
There were 41 new cases recorded the day before in the capital, which was more than double its previous daily record of 17.
If a state of emergency is declared, governors in hard-hit regions would have to take steps such as asking people to stay home, closing schools and other public facilities and cancelling large events. - Reuters/Xinhua
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