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Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of Japan’s coronavirus response, has cautioned the nation that a state of emergency may have to be imposed if further spread of the virus is not contained, saying the next three weeks will be “crucial” to prevent taking such strong measures.

“(Declaring) a state of emergency will come into view” if the spread is not contained in three weeks, he told a news conference Wednesday night following a meeting with a government panel of experts.

The panel recommended that people not travel to and from areas that have experienced a rapid increase of infections.

Taking preventive steps now is crucial to protect the country’s medical system, which is strained by the pandemic, Nishimura said.

The areas targeted for travel restrictions are those that should be rated Stage 3, the second-worst level on a four-tier system to measure the seriousness of the coronavirus situation, according to the panel led by Shigeru Omi, president of the Japan Community Health Care Organization.

The cities of Sapporo, Osaka and Nagoya, along with Tokyo’s 23 wards, are considered to be in Stage 3, Omi told a separate news conference. Trips to and from Stage 3 areas should be avoided as much as possible, the panel said, adding that in these areas, reductions in business hours should also be considered for bars and restaurants serving alcohol.

The panel stressed the importance of “taking powerful measures, intensively concentrating on the coming three weeks,” in areas where the infections are surging, so that the public will be able to spend the year-end and New Year’s holiday period calmly.

The central government has decided to temporarily exclude trips to Sapporo and Osaka from its Go To Travel tourism promotion program. The panel urged the government to exclude trips from hot spots, too.

The panel said it is necessary to take steps to prevent medical service capacity shortages and reduce the workloads at public health centers.

Article first published in The Japan Times on Nov. 26.

Warm up

One minute chat about winter.

Game

Collect words related to pandemic, e.g., hospital, infection, lockdown, spread.

New words

1) caution: to say something as a warning, e.g., “The police cautioned them on the noise.”

2) contain: to keep within limits; not allow to spread, e.g., “You need to stay calm and contain your anger.”

3) workload: the amount of work to be done, e.g., “Students studying online have found it difficult to manage their workload.”

Guess the headline

Amid vi_ _ _ surge, Japan could again turn to state of e_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _, key official says

Questions

1) What are the conditions for declaring a state of emergency?

2) Which areas are said to be in Stage 3?

3) What may happen in those Stage 3 areas according to the panels?

Let’s discuss the article

1) Did your life change at all during the previous state of emergency?

2) How can we, as citizens, help doctors and nurses?

3) How will you celebrate the new year holiday this year?

Reference

刻々とコロナウイルスの感染状況が変わる中、緊急事態宣言の再発令の可能性が政府メンバーから指摘されました。そのような事態を避けたいというのは政府、そして多くの国民の共通の願いでしょう。しかし、やむを得ず宣言が再発令される状況になりえるということは深刻に受け止めるべきでしょう。冬になればコロナウイルス以外の要因でも体調を崩す人が増えてきます。これから本格化する冬を前に私たちはどのように行動するべきなのか、朝英語の会に参加し皆さんで話し合ってみましょう。

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