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Hokkaido declares state of emergency over coronavirus

28 February 2020 21:14

TOKYO. KAZINFORM - The Hokkaido governor declared a state of emergency on Friday and asked residents to remain indoors over the weekend after the new coronavirus spread in Japan's northernmost main island, Kyodo reports.

The declaration came amid confusion among many prefectural and local authorities across Japan following a sudden request from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to temporarily shut schools.

At least 66 infections, including two deaths, have been confirmed in Hokkaido, while Japan has reported more than 900 domestic coronavirus cases, with over 700 of them linked to the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship quarantined near Tokyo.

«The situation has become more serious. I'd like people to refrain from going outside over the weekend to protect your lives and health,» Hokkaido Gov. Naomichi Suzuki said in the declaration.

The prefectural government cited the possibility of small clusters of infections after six people this month visited an exhibition in the city of Kitami and later tested positive for the virus.

Suzuki also asked those who feel unwell to refrain from going to work, saying there have been cases where people with mild symptoms have spread the virus when traveling.

In all of Japan, 19 more infections were confirmed, bringing the total to 938, with most linked to the cruise ship docked in Yokohama.

The domestic death toll rose to 11 after three additional fatalities were reported, including a Japanese woman and British man who had both been taken to hospitals from the Diamond Princess. The man is the first foreign national from the vessel to be confirmed dead due to the virus.

Many schools across Japan will close in line with the request from Abe, which sparked a public outcry forcing him to clarify that local authorities have the final say.

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