The Japanese government has launched a new task force to fight a growing coronavirus outbreak.
The move paves the way for the Prime Minister to declare a state of emergency based on a newly enacted law.
The task force will hear opinions of experts and draft basic guidelines for measures to prevent the spread of infection and step up medical care.
If the government finds there is a serious threat to public health and the economy, it can now begin steps to declare an emergency for a designated area and time.
In that situation, governors would be able to order the closure of schools and limit the use of facilities where many people gather, for example department stores and movie theaters.
It would also enable governors to seize land and buildings for emergency medical facilities -- without the owners' consent. They would also be able to compel companies to sell necessary medicine and health care equipment to the state.
Japan has now confirmed over 1,300 coronavirus infections. That does not include more than 700 cases from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
Forty-five people have died, along with ten from the cruise ship. More than 900 people have recovered and left hospital.