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Coronavirus: Japan declares state of emergency

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Tokyo, Apr 07: Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday announced a state of emergency for several major regions amid sharp rise in coronavirus cases. Abe, slso unveiled a stimulus package to soften the economic blow during the emergency.

"As I decided that a situation feared to gravely affect people's lives and the economy has occurred... I am declaring a state of emergency," Abe said.

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Shinzo Abe

The measure falls short of the strict lockdowns seen in other parts of the world but empowers local governors to urge people to stay inside and to call for businesses to close

Japan has so far been spared the sort of crisis seen in parts of Europe and the United States, with around 3,650 cases across the country - compared to around 330,000 in the US and around 130,000 in Italy and Spain.

Abe stunned the country in late February by calling for a nationwide shutdown of schools, at a time when there were only a handful of cases and few other countries had taken such a measure.

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But a recent spike in cases, especially in Tokyo, has raised renewed concern. New cases in the capital have been hitting almost daily records - 148 on Sunday and 83 cases on Monday - still far below figures seen elsewhere but enough to prompt official action.

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