TOKYO: The Japanese government will establish Thursday evening a new headquarters on the fight against the new coronavirus, under a special law that was revised recently to boost measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
The launch of the new headquarters under the law is one of the procedures needed for allowing the Japanese leader to declare a state of emergency over the coronavirus outbreak. The new body will be headed by the prime minister.
The government sees the need to prepare for emergencies, such as an explosive increase in cases of infection with the virus. The law on measures against new influenza was revised earlier this month to cover the novel coronavirus as well.
Once a state of emergency is declared, measures with certain binding power, such as instructions for the cancellations of events, can be taken.
On Thursday afternoon, health minister Katsunobu Kato reported to the prime minister that coronavirus infections are highly likely to become rampant. Based on the report, Abe instructed the establishment of the new headquarters. The headquarters will hold its first meeting immediately after Abe’s cabinet decides its launch Thursday evening.
At the meeting, Abe is expected to instruct participants to draw up basic countermeasures as stipulated under the revised special law.
“Now is a very critical time for preventing a rapid increase in coronavirus infections,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference Thursday morning.
The central government wants to work with local governments to prevent the virus from spreading further, the top government spokesman said.
But Suga said he believes that Japan is still not in a situation requiring the declaration of a state of emergency.