National

Kansai leaders call for those who returned from abroad to self-quarantine

by Eric Johnston

Staff writer

With over 340 cases of novel coronavirus in six Kansai area prefectures as of Friday, local leaders want all residents who have just returned from overseas to self-quarantine.

But despite Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike and the governors of surrounding Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama, and Yamanashi prefectures calling on people to avoid going into the capital this weekend, they added there was no need at the moment to consider similar calls for people stay out of Osaka.

“The situation in Kansai is not one where we have to immediately flip the switch for a lockdown of the cities, but we’ll continue to monitor things,” said Hyogo Gov. Toshizo Ido following a meeting of the Union of Kansai Governments Thursday evening.

The Union of Kansai Governments is headed by Ido and includes the governors of Osaka, Hyogo, Kyoto, Shiga, Nara, Wakayama, Tottori, and Tokushima prefectures, as well as the mayors of Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, and Sakai in Osaka Prefecture.

Of Kansai’s 342 confirmed cases as of early Friday morning, there were 156 in Osaka Prefecture and 120 in neighboring Hyogo, according to statistics compiled by NHK. There were 34 cases in Kyoto Prefecture, 17 in Wakayama Prefecture, nine cases in Nara Prefecture and six in Shiga. There have been 10 deaths in the six prefectures.

The call for those who had just returned from overseas to stay at home or in their place of lodging and avoid unnecessary, nonurgent travel comes as new cases in Kyoto, Hyogo, and Shiga prefectures involved those who had recently returned from the United States, the Netherlands and Spain.

Overseas flights to the Kansai region have already been drastically reduced. On Monday, Kansai International Airport announced that 90 percent of its international flights had been canceled due to the novel coronavirus. This includes 95 percent of all flights to China and South Korea and 77 percent of its direct flights to Europe.

While Kansai’s governors and mayors are not yet telling everyone to stay out of the region’s major cities, the arrival of cherry blossoms has created fresh concerns of new clusters if large groups gather at local parks for parties.

On Thursday, Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura asked that people avoid eating and drinking in large groups under the cherry blossoms but said that, unlike Tokyo, it was not necessary to tell people to remain indoors.

“The number of estimated cases within the prefecture is not such where we are requesting that people avoid going outside this weekend,” Yoshimura said.

He added, however, that everyone should remain vigilant, and that Tokyo’s situation and decisions would be monitored closely by Osaka as a base for making its own decisions about whether to demand people remain indoors.

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