Minister: State of emergency could be considered

Japan's minister in charge of coronavirus response says the government may consider declaring a state of emergency if the coronavirus continues to spread further.

Economic Revitalization Minister Nishimura Yasutoshi made the remark on Twitter on Wednesday. He said that such move could be considered to protect people's lives. He said infections must be stopped at any cost.

Nishimura reiterated his call on people to spend the year-end and New Year holidays only with their families.

He requested people going back to their hometowns from areas where the virus is spreading to be careful in meeting their elderly parents. Specifically, he advised them to just greet their parents at the entrance of their houses without going inside.

Nishimura also urged people to refrain from meeting someone they do not usually meet and to delay their annual visits to shrines during the New Year holidays.

On social media, Dr. Kutsuna Satoshi of the National Center for Global Health and Medicine said there has already been a collapse of the medical service system in Tokyo.

The doctor also said any further spread of the coronavirus would make it impossible to save lives that could be saved on a normal basis.