Japan gov't panel proposes schools resume in coronavirus-free areas
Kyodo -- Mar 20
A government panel of medical experts said Thursday that schools can reopen in areas without new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections, proposing to relax the current nationwide approach to pre-empt a further spread.

But the panel stressed the need for organizers to carefully consider whether to hold large gatherings to reduce group transmission risks.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has relied on the panel's assessment in determining his government's crisis response measures. His abrupt requests in late February that schools should shut through the end of a spring break in April also came after it released its view.

The experts said previously that clusters of infections had appeared in parts of the country, but an "explosion" of cases was being prevented. An update was due on Thursday with its assessment on whether the country's preventive measures have been effective.

The update came ahead of a three-day weekend in Japan where the number of cases has topped 1,600, including about 700 from the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship that was under quarantine near Tokyo in February.

Among the four prefectures that have reported over 100 cases, a state of emergency was lifted in Hokkaido, northern Japan, after its governor declared it in late February.

News source: Kyodo
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