Japan declares a state of emergency nationwide

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Japan has expanded its state of emergency to cover the entire country, AFP reports.

My colleague in Tokyo, Justin McCurry, earlier reported that Shinzo Abe, the country’s prime minister, was poised to announce the expansion of measures, which had already been declared in seven regions, including Tokyo.

On Thursday evening, Abe told a special meeting of medical experts called to discuss the disease:

Areas where a state of emergency should be carried out will be expanded from the seven prefectures to all prefectures

According to AFP, the declaration allows regional governors to urge people to stay indoors, but with no punitive measures or legal force, the measure is far weaker than strict lockdowns seen in other parts of the world.

Despite recording its first case in mid-January, Japan has so far seen a relatively small outbreak with about 8,500 infections and 136 deaths by Thursday.