Amid the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19), Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzō Abe, announced on Thursday that all schools in the country would be closed in March.
“Hokkaido will close all the public elementary and junior high schools from tomorrow. The city of Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture, will also close all the public schools in the city,” Abe explained in an official statement.
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“While local efforts are being made to prevent outbreaks among children, the next one to two weeks will be of critical importance.”
The Prime Minister was firm in communicating that maintaining the health and safety of children is the utmost priority, and the government will ask all elementary, junior and senior high schools as well as special needs schools to close temporarily from March 2 until spring break.
These actions are being put in place to allow students, teachers, and faculty members to combat the heightened risk of coronavirus spread and infection facilitated by existing in close quarters for long hours every day.
Additionally, Prime Minister Abe says he understands that there may be schools that have not concluded entrance examinations or graduation ceremonies.
The government stresses that when holding such celebrations, to ensure that all of the precautionary measures are taken, such as implementing actions to prevent coronavirus infections and keeping attendance levels to these occasions low.
The statement also requests that government offices and private companies, “create an environment such that their respective staff can easily take a leave as well as give due consideration to the circumstances facing parents with children,” explaining the government they will work to resolve any issues that arise as a result of these new measures.
Art galleries, museums and events have been canceled or closed in order to prevent the spread of the Novel Coronavirus. Please check the website of each facility before going out.#JNTOsafetravel
— Japan Safe Travel (JST) (@JapanSafeTravel) February 27, 2020
Abe also notes that a surge of coronavirus cases has been seen in specific locales, including fitness centres.
He asks the public to “immediately compile relevant countermeasures, seeking advice from experts on necessary responses to reduce the risk of infection in these places.”
The statement concludes with a concern regarding further outbreaks of novel coronavirus.
Abe encourages the public to act in accordance with these new measures to further prevention efforts.
“In light of that, I instruct you to urgently prepare a bill necessary to enhance the effectiveness of measures that are already in place as well as control the spread of infection and minimize the impacts to daily lives and the economy.”