Japan urges citizens to isolate themselves as reports warn 400,000 dead

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TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan on Wednesday urged citizens to stay at home as media warned that up to 400,000 people could die from coronavirus without urgent action, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was put under pressure to distribute more money.

People wearing protective masks walk the street after the government announced a state of emergency for the capital and certain prefectures following the epidemic of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the district of Sugamo, a popular area among Japanese seniors, in Tokyo, Japan, April 15, 2020. REUTERS / Issei Kato

Japan, which only tests people with symptoms of the coronavirus, has so far recorded more than 9,000 infections, including passengers who caught the virus on a cruise ship, with nearly 200 deaths.

Reports in Japanese media citing an undisclosed Ministry of Health projection indicate that deaths could reach 400,000 without mitigation. He also estimated that up to 850,000 people may need fans.

Japan has seen an acceleration in the infection rate in recent weeks, particularly in Tokyo. The government responded by declaring an emergency in Tokyo and six other regions, including Osaka, and a goal to reduce interactions between people by 70%.

The measures include a request for the isolation and closure of businesses, although there are no fines or penalties for enforcing compliance. Government spokesman Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga urged people to do everything in their power to help the government reach its goal.

The Japanese capital announced on Wednesday 127 new cases, including at least 327 nationwide, according to Kyodo Newswire.

Lawmaker Takashi Takai was forced to resign from Japan’s main constitutional constitutional democratic party on Wednesday after media reports said he had visited a bar in Tokyo’s Kabukicho red light district despite the call to stay at home him.

As Suga called for cooperation, Prime Minister was pressured to add a payment of 100,000 yen ($ 935) to each citizen in addition to a $ 1 trillion economic stimulus package that includes a payment of 300,000 yen to households whose income has dropped due to the pandemic.

“I urged the Prime Minister to make a decision and to send a strong message of solidarity to the public,” Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of the Komeito party, junior partner in the ruling coalition, told reporters after meeting with Abe.

Other allies calling for action include Toshihiro Nikai, a prominent member of Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Speaking at his regular afternoon briefing, Suga said the government is considering further measures, but wants to “extend aid to the hardest hit households.”

The emergency economic recovery of the coronavirus in Japan will increase the country’s real gross domestic product by 3.8%, the Cabinet Office said in a calculation released Wednesday evening.

Japan said earlier that the number of foreign visitors in March fell 93% from last year. Abe identified tourism as an engine of economic growth.

The U.S. military has extended a public health emergency to all of its bases in Japan. As of April 6, the emergency only applies to the eastern Kanto region, which includes Tokyo.

The health emergency, which affects the largest concentration of US military personnel in Asia, will remain in effect until May 15, more than a week after the Japanese government’s declaration of emergency announced on May 6. It gives commanders the power to enforce compliance with health measures on anyone accessing US bases, including thousands of local residents who work as engineers and service personnel.

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Abe will decide next week to extend the Japanese government’s emergency statement after consulting with medical experts, two sources familiar with the matter who spoke to Reuters said.

A key measure will be whether the new daily infections in Tokyo can be kept at a hundred, the sources said. They asked not to be identified because they are not allowed to speak to the media.

(This story will be corrected next week starting this weekend in the penultimate paragraph)

Reports by Leika Kihara, Chris Gallagher, Antoni Slodkowski, Rocky Swift, Yoshifumi Takemoto and Daniel Leussink; written by Tim Kelly; Editing by Peter Graff and Alex Richardson

Our standards:Principles of the Thomson Reuters Trust.

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