Japan's Kyoto asks to be placed under gov't's state of emergency as COVID-19 cases rise

Source: Xinhua| 2020-04-10 21:09:33|Editor: huaxia

TOKYO, April 10 (Xinhua) -- The Kyoto prefectural government on Friday said it plans to ask the central government to add it to regions that were officially placed under a state of emergency earlier this week, as the western Japan prefecture seeks to ramp up efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Kyoto governor Takatoshi Nishiwaki told a press conference on the matter Friday that the region is in a "severe" situation owing to the spread of the pneumonia-causing virus.

"We are in a severe situation," said Nishiwaki, who went on to explain that many of the infection routes of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases recorded over the past week in Kyoto were unknown.

Nishiwaki along with Kyoto City Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa maintained that the situation facing Kyoto is the same as those being experienced by Tokyo and the six other prefectures covered by the state of emergency declared by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday.

The city mayor also highlighted the fact that Kyoto lies adjacent to Osaka and Hyogo prefectures which are both covered by the emergency declaration and should be treated the same, considering the proximity of the three regions.

Prefectural governors of the regions covered by the declaration have extended powers to take preventative and other measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.

Such measures include being allowed to call for schools closures, and the temporary closure of other public facilities where people usually gather in large groups, such as sports stadiums or theaters.

The Japanese law, however, does not allow for the kind of wholesale lockdowns that have been seen in other countries, like Italy and France, also contending with the spread of the COVID-19 virus, and under the law penalties cannot be issued to citizens or businesses who opt not to follow requests from prefectural governors.

But local governments have the power to demand that supplies deemed essential to combating the spread of the virus be sold to them or requisitioned, and be able to temporarily commandeer private land or facilities for the purposes of providing medical care.

Local authorities covered by the declaration will be able to better clamp down on hoarding and insist firms help transport emergency goods if deemed necessary.

COVID-19 cases topped 6,000 nationwide, according to the latest figures from the health ministry and local authorities on Thursday evening, with infections in the capital recording a new daily record at 189 new cases.