The Aisian nation Japan is grappling to hold the line against the deadly coronavirus or COVID-19 and is on the brink of huge crisis with medical experts worried about the preparations in Tokyo, officials stated on Wednesday, raising the idea of emergency lockdown.
The Asian country where the Tokyo 2020 Olympics was supposed to be held has around 2,200 cases of the deadly novel virus till now and 66 deaths, which is relatively less compared to those of US, China andparts of Europe.
Japan struggling with Coronavirus
But the new infections are appearing relentlessly, with 105 reported on Wednesday, 65 of them in the capital, where cases are closely watched as increasing numbers there add to pressure on the government to take drastic steps.
"We are barely holding the line and remain at a critical point where virus cases could surge if we let down our guard," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a parliamentary committee. He is set to hold a meeting of his coronavirus task force later on Wednesday. Abe is under pressure from the public to declare a state of emergency that would allow authorities to impose lockdowns and restrict movements, but on a voluntary, not a legally binding, basis.
Experts worried about preparations in Tokyo
Economics Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said infectious disease experts were alarmed about medical preparations in Tokyo, which now has about 500 cases. "Many experts expressed very strong sense of crisis and opinions over the spread of infections in Tokyo and the current state of medical preparedness," Nishimura told reporters. "We must prevent infections from spreading further no matter what. We have come to the edge of edges, to the very brink."
The governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, has requested that residents of the city of nearly 14 million people stay indoors and avoid restaurants and bars. "People are saying 'I didn't think I would get infected myself'. I want everyone to share the awareness that one should both protect oneself while also avoiding spreading (the virus)," she said.
Calls for lockdown increasing
A Bank of Japan poll showed the mood of industrial manufacturers at its most pessimistic for seven years. Calls for a lockdown are increasing on social media, with many Twitter users expressing worry and citing much more drastic measures in foreign cities. "One of my friends, who works in Tokyo, is still commuting on packed trains," wrote a user under the Twitter handle Arikan.
"I'm a little embarrassed by how indecisive Japan is compared to other nations." Media reported the possibility schools would remain closed until May. The government first closed public schools at Abe's request from March 2. The Tokyo metropolitan government had said it was planning to re-open at least some schools when the new academic year began in April.
(With agency inputs)