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Gov't will ask all schools in Japan to shut over virus fears: PM Abe

27 February 2020 15:55

TOKYO. KAZINFORM Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday the government will ask all elementary, junior-high and high schools in Japan to shut from Monday amid growing fears of the spread of the new coronavirus, Kyodo reports.

In a meeting of a government task force to fight the pneumonia-causing virus, Abe instructed the government to «prepare necessary legislation to curb the spread of infections and minimize the impact on the lives of people as well as the economy.»

Nursery schools will be excluded from the nationwide closure request, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare.

The ministry said it will also ask the operators of after-school clubs for elementary school pupils to open the facilities.

Japan's school year ends in March and a new academic year typically starts in early April.

Abe's announcement came as the number of confirmed COVID-19 patients increased in Japan, totaling 914 as of Thursday evening, including over 700 from the Diamond Princess, a virus-hit cruise ship docked in Yokohama near Tokyo.

On Wednesday, Abe asked organizers of big sports and cultural events scheduled for the next two weeks to consider canceling or postponing them during what the government says is a «critical time» for Japan to stem a rise in the pneumonia-causing virus, which originated in the city of Wuhan in central China.

The government has also pledged this summer's Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will go ahead as scheduled.

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