Calls are growing for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to declare a state of emergency to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus before it is too late.

"I personally feel it's time (Japan) makes the declaration, and devises measures based on that," Satoshi Kamayachi, an executive board member of the Japan Medical Association also serving on a government expert panel on COVID-19, said at a news conference Monday night.

Referring to an unofficial telephone conference held with other members of the panel prior to the news conference, he said, "Almost everyone agreed that it's better to declare a state of emergency."