SAPPORO: Hokkaido Governor Naomichi Suzuki declared a state of emergency Friday in the wake of the spread of the novel coronavirus in the northernmost Japan prefecture, calling on residents to refrain from going out this weekend.
“The situation is getting more and more serious,” Suzuki said at the prefectural government’s meeting to discuss how to contain the outbreak.
In Hokkaido, 12 virus carriers were newly identified Friday, raising the tally to 66, including two deaths. The state of emergency will last until March 19.
“Measures to reduce the speed of virus infections are necessary. Now is the crucial time to lessen the impact on people’s daily lives by containing the outbreak as soon as possible,” Suzuki stressed at the meeting.
Asked at a press conference later if there is the legal rationale behind the request for not making an unnecessary outing, Suzuki said, “No, I hope for cooperation, for the protection of people’s lives.”
Suzuki also said he plans to meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday to asks for the central government’s emergency assistance for Hokkaido, which has the greatest number of infections among the country’s 47 prefectures.
To prevent the China-born virus from rampaging through Hokkaido, experts from the National Institute of Infectious Diseases have been conducting field investigation to find out if any cluster of coronavirus infections has taken place.
Meanwhile, the Hokkaido government closed elementary and junior high schools from Thursday, ahead of the central government’s request for all schools across the nation to call off classes from Monday.