Japan’s prime minister has asked all nationwide primary and secondary schools to close on Monday amid coronavirus fears, according to local media.
Prime minister Shinzo Abe said he had asked schools to remain closed until spring holidays begin in late March.
The measure comes amid growing concern about the rise in the number of untraceable cases in northern Japan and elsewhere. Japan now has more than 890 cases, including 705 from a quarantined cruise ship.
Some 1,600 schools in the nearby main island of Hokkaido decided to immediately shut on Thursday, rather than wait for Monday, as authorities battle to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
Meanwhile, a woman in Osaka working as a tour bus guide was reinfected with the coronavirus, testing positive after having recovered from an earlier infection.
Her case, the first known of in Japan, highlighted how much is still unknown about the virus even as concerns grow about its global spread.
Hokkaido governor Naomichi Suzuki said: “We will make our best efforts to prevent further spread of infection to protect the lives and health of the people in Hokkaido,” local media reported.
Meanwhile, Tokyo Olympics organisers and the Japanese government have insisted preparations for this summer’s Games are continuing as planned, after a senior member of the International Olympic Committee claimed the event is being threatened by the spread of coronavirus.
Tokyo organising committee chief executive Toshiro Muto abruptly called a news conference late on Wednesday afternoon to address comments from Dick Pound, who has been a member of the IOC since 1978, serving two terms as vice-president.
Pound had said: “You could certainly go to two months out if you had to. By and large you’re looking at a cancellation. This is the new war, and you have to face it.
“In and around there folks are going to have to say: ‘Is this under sufficient control that we can be confident of going to Tokyo or not?’”