Japan gov't criticized over initial coronavirus response
Kyodo -- Feb 01
Japan's government is facing criticism that its initial response to the outbreak of a deadly coronavirus was too lax, as other countries have taken stronger steps to prevent a spread within their borders.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his government is doing what it can but has been limited by legal constraints and considerations for human rights.

Japan has so far evacuated 565 of its citizens on charter flights out of Wuhan, the Chinese city at the center of the outbreak. All have been asked to take a voluntary test for the coronavirus and remain in government-provided lodgings for up to two weeks, regardless of whether they have symptoms.

But two persons initially refused to be tested, something Abe said was "extremely regrettable" but could not be legally enforced. "It's also a matter of human rights and there's only so much we can do," he said in parliament on Thursday.

The two, however, later agreed to be tested.

The coronavirus has continued to spread, killing at least 213 people and infecting more than 9,800 in China as of Friday night, according to its health authorities. There have been 17 confirmed infections in Japan.

The government on Friday moved to take further steps to contain the outbreak, announcing it will prohibit holders of Chinese passports issued in Hubei Province, of which Wuhan is the capital, from entering Japan as well as moving forward an ordinance that would allow it to forcefully hospitalize people with symptoms.

News source: Kyodo
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