Japan’s northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido has declared a state of emergency on Friday (February 28) following the rise in the number of Covid-19 cases.
“Hokkaido has been doing everything it can to contain the virus, but the crisis is deepening,” governor Naomichi Suzuki said at a televised news conference on Friday evening, urging residents to stay indoors over the weekend.
The move comes as Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe made an abrupt call on Thursday for schools to close for a month from today (March 2) to prevent the spread of the disease – a move that has sparked public outcry as it is deemed as unnecessary and extreme.
As of Friday, Hokkaido has confirmed 66 infections, making it Japan’s highest number of Covid-19 cases. Japan has reported more than 900 domestic cases of the virus, with more than 700 of them linked to the Diamond Princess cruise ship which was quarantined in Yokohama.
Additionally, Suzuki noted that at least six infections can be linked to an exhibition held in Kitami, one of Hokkaido’s main cities.