AGENCIES, Tokyo: If one goes by statistics, Japan’s experience with coronavirus has been better than United States and Europe. But that’s not stopping the administration to let itself go off guard when it comes to managing the crisis that has till now resulted in more than 14,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus infections and 436 deaths.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his team have been monitoring closely the developments and is could extend its state of emergency that was originally set to end on May 6.
Japan’s health experts have insisted that coronavirus restrictions should remain in place until the number of cases falls further in the country.
The extension will be for a month, government sources told media, even as some other countries in the region begin to reopen after relaxing strict lockdowns.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told parliament that he would consult infectious disease experts on Friday whether to extend the emergency, which he declared on April 7 for seven prefectures including Tokyo.
The state of emergency gives local governors greater power to tell people to stay at home and ask businesses to close, but it does not mandate penalties in most cases for non-compliance, relaying instead on social pressure and respect for authority.
With the emergency declaration set to conclude at the end of Golden Week holidays, there remain worrying signs that Japan’s low testing regime has missed out on many coronavirus cases.
At the same time, data showing consumer confidence at a record low along with slumps in factory output and retail sales illustrated the economic damage from the virus.