The Japanese government announced the expansion of the state of emergency to cover all parts of the country, in light of the worsening of the outbreak of the Corona virus.
The move allows local authorities to urge people to stay at home, but without punitive measures or legal force.
The state of emergency is valid until May 6.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had declared a month of emergency in seven provinces.
Speaking during a private meeting with medical experts, Abe said: “The state of emergency will be extended to all governorates.”
As the number of casualties increased in Japan, criticism of the Abe government’s response to the crisis intensified.
One poll showed that 75 percent of citizens believe that it took too long for the Prime Minister to declare a state of emergency in Tokyo.
After the recent rise in the number of injuries in Tokyo, experts warned that the city’s medical emergency facilities could collapse under pressure. Tokyo officials also urged people to work from home.
After the partial state of emergency entered into force on April 8th, a number of rulers of other regions called for extending measures to include their areas, saying that cases are increasing and that their medical facilities are on the verge of collapse.
How did Japan respond to the outbreak?
Although the country’s first infection was recorded in more than three months, Japan has conducted screening tests for only a small percentage of the population, according to BBC correspondent in Tokyo Robert Wingfield-Hayes.
Unlike South Korea – which has largely controlled the epidemic through large-scale testing programs – the Japanese government has said that large-scale testing is a “waste of resources.”
The Ministry of Health fears that hospitals may be full of people with mild symptoms.
Virus detection testing is conducted by local health centers, not at the level of the national government, and some of these local centers are not equipped to conduct tests on a large scale.
Hokkaido became the first region in Japan to declare a state of emergency due to the coronavirus, in late February, and ended the state of emergency on 19 March. However, the state of emergency was re-imposed this week, due to a second wave of casualties.