Schools in Japan can reopen in April after coronavirus shutdown
Japan Timesj -- Mar 21
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government will not extend its current request for school closures across Japan to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus and will allow classes to begin as scheduled in the new academic year starting April, the education minister said Friday.

Speaking at a meeting of a government task force on fighting the coronavirus, Abe instructed the education ministry to draw up plans for the reopening of schools after a spring break through early April.

But Abe remained cautious in his approach to allowing organizers to hold large events, asking them to carefully examine whether the gatherings are necessary amid group transmission risks.

Abe made the remarks a day after a government panel of medical experts said Japan has so far avoided a surge in infections. But it warned of “overshooting,” or an explosive increase in infections, citing that some have emerged in parts of Japan, mainly in city areas.

The panel said school activity can resume in areas with no new infections but recommended that organizers carefully consider whether to hold large gatherings to reduce the risk of group infections.

“We confirmed that our school closure request will not be extended,” Koichi Hagiuda, minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology, told journalists after the government task force meeting at the prime minister’s office.

His ministry will compile guidelines early next week on resuming classes, he said.

Medical experts say people with existing medical conditions and the elderly are more likely to develop severe symptoms if they get infected with the pneumonia-causing virus.

The total number of infections in Japan has topped 1,600, including about 700 from the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship quarantined near Tokyo in February.

News source: Japan Timesj
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