Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called for all schools in the country to close from Monday until the end of their spring holidays as part of measures to combat the spread of coronavirus.
The closure will apply to all elementary, junior and senior high schools nationwide, Abe said at a meeting of a government task force. Japan’s spring holidays typically begin around late March and run until the start of the new school year in April.
The request comes after a surge in cases of the virus in Japan in recent days, including 13 new infections in the northern island of Hokkaido alone today. The Health Ministry has said the steps won’t apply to day care facilities, Kyodo reported.
After taking criticism for a slow response to the spread of the infection in Japan, the government is this week moving to take more urgent steps as the outbreak threatens Japan’s economy and even raises question marks over the Tokyo 2020 Olympics set to be held in July. The closure of the schools follows a call Wednesday to cancel, postpone or scale down all major sporting and cultural events for the next two weeks, which has led to a flurry of cancellations of concerts and professional sports games.