Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that he will declare a state of emergency for Tokyo and six other prefectures as early as Tuesday to bolster measures to fight the coronavirus outbreak, but that there will be no hard lockdowns.
Abe also told reporters Monday that his government will launch a 108 trillion yen ($1 trillion) stimulus package to help counter the economic impact of the pandemic, including cash payouts to households in need and financial support to protect businesses and jobs.
Abe said experts on a government-commissioned task force urged him to prepare to declare a state of emergency, with the COVID-19 outbreak rapidly expanding in major cities including Tokyo, and hospitals and medical staff overburdened with patients. 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.
The prime minister said he will hold a news conference on Tuesday to explain the state of emergency.
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 Gov. Yuriko Koike said the city will start transferring patients with no or slight symptoms from hospitals to hotels and other accommodations to make room for an influx of patients with severe symptoms.
Japan’s health ministry has confirmed 3,654 cases of the 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.
Mari Yamaguchi for The Associated Press.