“Hokkaido has been doing everything it can to contain the virus, but the crisis is deepening.” – Naomichi Suzuki, Governor of Hokkaido, Japan.
Hokkaido’s Governor, Suzuki, declared a state-of-emergency at a press conference last Friday, February 28, as the number of coronavirus cases arose.
Hokkaido, as Japan’s largest prefecture, entailed two deaths in 63 COVID-19 cases, deeming more than 25% portion of infected people in the country.
Suzuki believed that the state-of-emergency declaration until March 19 is necessary to take ‘unprecedented, drastic steps’ – where the residents must stay indoors as advised.
The governor also asked the Hokkaido residents for full cooperation in protecting lives and ensuring a swift ending of the incident by refraining from going out during the weekend.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s central government already dispatched a special team for the Hokkaido region to help contain the virus.
It is believed that Hokkaido’s famous ski resorts attracting many wealthy Asian tourists, including from China (origin of the coronavirus), caused the virus outbreak in Hokkaido to become severe.
The current data stated that 200 people across Japan have been infected by COVID-19, where Hokkaido has been linked to five deaths.
The data excludes the Diamond Princess quarantined cruise liner docked in Yokohama port, having more than 700 cases and five more deaths.
Schools Closure in Hokkaido
It was announced by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday, February 27, that primary, junior high, and high schools, except the nurseries and after-school clubs, should shut down for around a month, earning criticisms from health officials and political analysts.
The Hokkaido region had closed schools already under Suzuki’s administration but failed to announce concrete measures against the outbreak.
Meanwhile, health officials and analysts condemned the abrupt decision, saying that it was politically motivated. Local authorities second the motion, where several cities and a prefecture declined the school closure request.
A businesswoman, Mieko Hamada, 56, expressed her disappointment upon the closure as she had to babysit her grandchildren due to the suspension of classes. Hamada’s daughter works, while babysitters refused either, so she had to ask her juniors to cover for her.
Under the parliament’s intense interrogation, Abe hinted a willingness to amiably call for mass closures, saying it was the government’s “basic thinking” – as to why schools and local authorities must decide flexibly.
Abe also vowed to take necessary political measures to contain the outbreak from dealing with a grave impact on Japan’s economic recovery.
Despite the curtailing of large gatherings, like sports fixtures, the government also pledged that the 2020 Summer Olympic Games would push through in Tokyo.
Tokyo Summer Olympic Games 2020 Volunteer Training Postponed
Organizers of the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic postponed army volunteer training as a precautionary measure against coronavirus outbreak while reiterating that canceling the games was not a consideration.
Tokyo 2020 released a press statement published on Saturday morning saying, “As part of efforts to prevent the spread of infection of the novel coronavirus, we have decided to postpone training scheduled from tomorrow (Sunday).”
The participating military volunteers would be informed personally regarding the rescheduled dates. (For 400+ military discounts, check Coupon Lawn for deals)
The organizers also insisted that this postponement would bring no impact on the Olympic preparations – where the event was scheduled on July 24 this year.
The participants of Tokyo 2020 would also be asked to undergo preventative measures to prevent further spreading of the disease.
Despite the surfacing hysteria over the lethal virus, the organizers were still evaluating the urgent necessities for every game-related event on a case-to-case basis.
“I can confirm Tokyo 2020 remains on track,” John Coates, top IOC official, stated last week in Tokyo, while Tokyo 2020 CEO Yoshiro Mori criticized “irresponsible rumors” spreading about the Olympic Games.
However, the authorities of other sporting events were still on a high alert, where the Tokyo Marathon on March 1 was restricted to elite athletes only, and the Paralympics boccia test event has been scaled down, prohibiting international athletes.