Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday called upon schools to close nationwide from March 2 for several weeks to prevent the spread of the new Corona-virus.
The request came on a day when organizations were rushing to cancel events that would bring numbers of people into close contact. The government considers the health and safety of children above anything else.
We request all primary, junior high and high schools across the nation to close temporarily from March 2 next week until their spring break.
The spring break for public schools usually starts in late March in Japan and lasts several weeks. Efforts to prevent the spread of infections among children are being made in various areas.
Many public elementary schools and junior high schools in northern Hokkaido were already closed on Thursday after the governor requested public schools to close for about a week.
The city of Osaka also said it will close its kindergartens, elementary and junior high schools from Saturday for two weeks.
Abe’s call comes after the government urged organizers of major events to consider cancelling them, and called on businesses to allow employees to work from home or commute off-peak.
Authorities have said the coming two to three weeks will be critical in determining whether they can stem the outbreak of the virus, which has infected nearly 200 people in the country and been linked to the deaths of three.
Japan has also struggled to deal with the fallout from a Carnival cruise ship that it quarantined off its coast, where more than 700 people tested positive for the virus. Four people who became sick on the ship have died.
It’s extremely important to prevent one patient cluster from creating another and we think we should take thorough measures.
An expert advising the government warned that Japan is at a “crossroads” in its bid to prevent a major Corona-virus outbreak and may need to reconsider the Olympics if domestic transmissions are not brought under control.
The government can still prevent the virus from spreading more widely, but that the next three weeks will be critical.
If Japan can contain the secondary transmission within the country, that’s a very good sign, and it’s a very good signal for Tokyo to decide ‘go’ for the Olympics and Paralympics.
So far, Japan has faced significant criticism for its handling of a Diamond Princess cruise ship placed in quarantine after a former passenger contracted the virus.
Asia Times / ABC Flash Point News 2020.