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Japan’s new viral emergency met with public indifference – Times of India

TOKYO: Japan’s expanded state of emergency went into effect Thursday as the government seeks to stop an outbreak of new coronavirus infections, although with the restrictions not binding many people appear to be ignoring requests to avoid non-essential travel.
People were still moving on crowded trains and buses in Osaka, Fukuoka and other areas of the seven new prefectures under the state of emergency. In Tokyo, where the emergency decree has already been in place for a week, the governor expressed concern that people are not following official guidelines.
“Thank you for your cooperation, but the number of people in town has not been drastically reduced,” Governor Yuriko Koike told reporters.
She said the state of emergency was not just about avoiding dining out at night or closing restaurants early, but reducing contact between people.
“The virus doesn’t have a calendar, clock or even a map. Day or night, or prefectural borders don’t matter,” she said. “Please avoid going out for non-essential purposes.”
As part of the state of emergency which now covers areas where more than half of the Japanese population live, bars and restaurants have been asked to close at 8 p.m., employers have been asked to put 70% to work their home staff and residents of affected areas. were advised to avoid going out for non-essential purposes. Reduced capacity has also been requested for sports and other events.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Sugathe government said that measures are needed to prevent an increase in infections in urban areas from spreading to small towns where medical systems are vulnerable. Suga called the situation “serious” and called on the people to cooperate, although in Japan the demands are not binding and those who ignore them are not punished.
The governor of Tokyo has urged the country’s leading business organization to encourage employers to do more to promote remote working and reduce commuting as requested by the government.
Japan has seen coronavirus infections and deaths roughly double over the past month to around 302,000 and 4,200 respectively. Tokyo alone reported 1,502 new cases on Thursday.
Yet despite the outbreak, Japan has reported far fewer infections than many countries its size.
Experts say people are not responding to emergency measures due to growing complacency.
Suga said he would demand a review of a law to allow his government to take binding action with penalties for violators.
Cabinet minister responsible for coronavirus measures Yasutoshi Nishimura told a special parliamentary panel on Thursday that a further expansion of the emergency was possible if infections spread.
The emergency decree now covers the prefectures of Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Fukuoka, Aichi, Gifu and Tochigi.
Dr Shigeru Omi, former World Health Organization regional director who heads a government Covid-19 task force, said tougher measures such as requests for business closures may be needed if the measures are ineffective in early February. He previously said that a month-long emergency might not be enough to slow the outbreak.
Suga was criticized for failing to take stronger action earlier in the outbreak, when the measures were largely limited to asking the public to take basic safety measures such as wearing masks and washing clothes. hands.

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