Japan to punish dodgers of antivirus measures as COVID-19 deaths top 6,000

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TOKYO, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) — Japan on Wednesday confirmed 2,631 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the nation’s cumulative total of cases to 396,716 and its death toll to 6,085 as 120 deaths were confirmed.

The figure compares to around 2,300 new infections reported nationwide the previous day, with Tokyo, the hardest hit among Japan’s 47 prefectures, reporting 676 new cases Wednesday.

The capital city of 14 million has now seen its total tally hit 101,466 infections, with the latest figure marking the sixth successive day the daily tally has remained below the 1,000-mark.

It compares to 556 new infections confirmed on Tuesday, rising from 393 new cases reported on Monday.

On Tuesday, Japan announced the state of emergency in place for Tokyo and other regions hard hit by the novel coronavirus will be extended by one month until March 7.

The state of emergency initially declared by Suga on Jan. 7 will be extended for 10 of the 11 previously affected regions including Tokyo’s neighboring prefectures of Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa, as well as Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Fukuoka, Aichi and Gifu prefectures.

Tochigi Prefecture will not be subjected to the extension and will have the state of emergency lifted on Feb. 7, as cases there have subsided markedly.

Under the state of emergency declared last month, bars and restaurants were asked to shorten their operating hours and close their doors by 8:00 p.m. and people were asked to refrain from making unnecessary trips outdoors, especially in the evenings.

Along with businesses encouraging their employees to work from home, large venues had spectator numbers capped, all in a bid to combat the spread of the virus.

The government is now hoping that new laws, which will come into effect next week, making it possible to impose fines on people and businesses thwarting requests to follow the country’s measures to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, may help its plight in fighting the virus’ spread.

The laws, enacted in Japan’s upper house of parliament on Wednesday, now make it possible to slap fines of 500,000 yen (4,700 U.S. dollars) on COVID-19 carriers who refuse hospitalization, and penalties of up to 300,000 yen on those who do not comply with health officials’ surveys.

According to Japanese health minister Norihisa Tamura, dozens of municipalities have reported instances of (COVID-19 positive) people refusing to be hospitalized or escaping from care.

“We have incorporated penalties to ensure the effectiveness of antivirus measures,” Tamura told an upper house committee.

Businesses, such as bars and restaurants, that refuse to shorten their opening hours and close earlier under the state of emergency could be fined 300,000 yen.

Businesses in areas not under a state of emergency but where anti-virus requests have been made by local prefectures, meanwhile, could be slapped with a 200,000 yen fine for non-compliance.

The revisions made to Japan’s coronavirus special measures law and the infectious diseases law to introduce the penalties passed the lower house on Monday. Enditem

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