Japan urges citizens to isolate as reports warn of 400,000 deaths
TOKYO: Japan urged its citizens yesterday to stay home, as media reports warned that as many as 400,000 of them could die of the coronavirus without urgent action.
Japan, which only tests people with symptoms of the coronavirus, has so far recorded more than 8,000 infections with nearly 200 deaths.
Reports in Japanese media citing an undisclosed health ministry projection said fatalities could reach the 400,000 mark without mitigation measures. It also estimated that as many as 850,000 people could need ventilators.
Japan has seen an accelerating infection rate in recent weeks, particularly in Tokyo. The government has responded by declaring an emergency in Tokyo and six other areas including Osaka, and a goal to cut interactions between people by 70 per cent.
NO FINES OR PENALTIES
The measures include a request that people isolate and businesses close, although there are no fines or penalties to force compliance. The government spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, urged people to do everything in their power to help the government reach its target.
Tokyo reported more than 125 new cases yesterday, according to public broadcaster NHK.
Mr Abe will decide this weekend whether to extend the Japanese government's emergency declaration after consulting medical experts, according to two sources familiar with the matter who spoke to Reuters.
A key metric will be if new daily infections in Tokyo can be kept to around a hundred, the sources said. They asked not to be identified because they are not authorised to speak to the media.
In South-east Asia, Malaysia yesterday reported 85 new infections, the lowest daily rise since the government imposed curbs to limit the virus' spread on March 18. The total number of infections in the country now stands at 5,072.
The health ministry also reported one new death, with a total of 83 fatalities so far.
Malaysia previously had the highest number of confirmed infections in South-east Asia but was overtaken this week by the Philippines and Indonesia, which reported a total of 5,453 and 5,136 cases respectively yesterday.
Indonesia also reported 10 additional deaths, taking the total to 469, while the Philippines reported 14, taking its total to 349 fatalities. - REUTERS, THE STAR