TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s confirmed coronavirus infections rose above 1,000 on Wednesday, most from a quarantined cruise liner, as Olympics organizers dismissed hypothesis that the Tokyo Summer Games could possibly be canceled.
Twenty-three new infections had been reported by Wednesday night time, from Yamaguchi prefecture within the west to Hokkaido within the north, underlining the virus’s unfold throughout the nation and elevating questions on whether or not the Games, as a consequence of begin in late July, can go forward.
The virus is spreading worldwide, with South Korea, Europe and Iran hit onerous, and a number of other international locations have reported their first confirmed cases, taking the whole to some 80 nations hit with the flu-like sickness that may result in pneumonia.
The variety of cases in mainland China, the place the outbreak originated in December, reached 80,270, whereas the demise toll had risen by 38 to 2,981 by March three.
There have been greater than 125 deaths outdoors China.
The new cases in Japan pushed the whole over 1,000, based on Reuters calculations – 706 are from the Diamond Princess cruise liner, quarantined for weeks off Yokohama.
Twelve individuals have died in Japan, six from the cruise chip, the well being ministry stated.
The president of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics stated the choice of cancelling the Games was not on the desk, responding to deepening hypothesis of a delay or cancellation.
“I am totally not considering this,” Yoshiro Mori informed reporters at a briefing when requested a couple of attainable cancellation.
Asked when the organizers may resolve on modifications to the Olympics, Mori, a former prime minister, stated: “I’m not God, so I don’t know.”
FULL STEAM AHEAD
The feedback got here after the federal government’s chief spokesman stated Tokyo would “steadily proceed” with preparations for the Games whereas coordinating with the International Olympic Committee.
IOC head Thomas Bach on Tuesday reiterated his backing for the Games, urging athletes to organize “full steam”.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has requested faculties to shut this month, corporations are encouraging workers to make money working from home and sporting occasions are being canceled or performed in empty arenas.
The Tokyo 2020 organizing committee on Wednesday stated it had stepped up measures to guard runners and spectators for the torch relay, which begins this month. The variety of guests can be restricted and the runners can be monitored, the committee stated in a press release.
Some of the considerations have been fueled by Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto, who stated on Tuesday Tokyo’s contract with the IOC “could be interpreted as allowing a postponement” till the top of the yr, though she reiterated the federal government remained dedicated to the Games.
Hashimoto additionally indicated the top of May could possibly be a key date for making any remaining determination.
Crowds can be smaller and receptions have been scrapped on the Tokyo 2020 torch-lighting ceremony in historic Olympia, Greece, subsequent week.
Tokyo has 40 confirmed coronavirus cases, whereas infections have been reported as far south as Okinawa.
The northern island of Hokkaido reported three new cases on Wednesday, bringing its complete to 82, the very best amongst Japan’s prefectures. In western Japan, Ehime reported its second case and Yamaguchi introduced its first.
“Given how the coronavirus was spreading throughout the country, I thought it would only be a matter of time before a case was confirmed in Yamaguchi,” Tsugumasa Muraoka, the prefecture’s governor, informed reporters.
“We will be doing all we can to prevent the spread of the virus.”
In separate statements on Wednesday, Japan’s largest provider, ANA Holdings (9202.T), and rival Japan Airlines Co (9201.T) stated they might cancel some home flights between March 6-12 as a consequence of slower demand.
Reporting by Chris Gallagher, Makiko Yamazaki, Sakura Murakami, Jack Tarrant, Antoni Slodkowski and David Dolan in Tokyo; Additional reporting by Stephanie Ulmer-Nebehay in Geneva; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Nick Macfie