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Coronavirus

Japan's prime minister calls for 2 weeks of event cancellations

Tokyo to deny entry of foreigners from coronavirus-hit areas of South Korea

Japanese Prime Minister Shizo Abe, right, speaks during a meeting of a government task force on the new coronavirus on Feb. 26 in Tokyo. (Photo by Uichiro Kasai)

TOKYO -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe requested Wednesday to either cancel, postpone or reduce the size of any nationwide sports and cultural events for the next two weeks, amid increasing confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in various parts of the country.

"The next one or two weeks are extremely important to prevent the spread of infection," Abe told a meeting of a government task force on coronavirus composed of health and other ministers.

The basic policy adopted Tuesday by the government to cope with a further spread had addressed organizers of these events to reconsider the need to be held at the timing, while it had not uniformly asked for self-restraint. A government panel of medical experts had said in the policy that the next week or two will be a critical period to determine whether the virus will spread further or not.

Abe also said Japan will deny entry to foreigners from the South Korean city of Daegu and Cheongdo County in North Gyeongsang Province. The measure will take effect just after midnight on Thursday morning, targeting foreign nationals who have stayed in the regions over the last 14 days.

The same ban has been imposed on foreign travelers from the Chinese province of Hubei, whose capital, Wuhan, is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. as well as Zhejiang province. Tokyo is now enlarging the targeted area beyond China for the first time.

In South Korea, a mass infection was triggered in a church of religious group the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, which has since spread to nearby areas.

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