Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has ordered all elementary, junior high, and high schools across Japan to close through to the student spring break.
The Japan Times reports that the announcement came on February 24th, ordering the schools to be closed through to the student spring break (which starts in late March, and ends in early April).
During a meeting of key Cabinet ministers to discuss the coronavirus outbreak, Abe reportedly stated “Efforts have been made to prevent the spread of infection among children in each region, and these one or two weeks will be an extremely critical period. The government attaches the top priority to the health and safety of children, among others.”
On February 27th, the health and welfare ministry clarified that the order does not apply to day cares, or after-school facilities for elementary school students.
The Japan Times also reports that after the Hokkaido prefecture had its first fatality on February 26th due to the virus, the Hokkaido education board urged local authorities to temporarily close all elementary and junior high schools (both public, and private).
The Hokkaido education board is also conducting a “health survey” with all teachers during the shutdown, and the decision if schools need to be decontaminated will be decided by each municipality.
On March 5 there will also be (in The Japan Times own words) “a special class on infectious diseases” that will be hosted at all elementary and junior high schools in Hokkaido. As “schools are expected to prepare for it during the closure,” and that the lesson would take place over the closure period, it is not clear whether this lesson is for students or teachers.
Other schools and education facilities had begun closing prior to the order. Tokyo’s Ochanomizu University had stated before the announcement it would close its doors on February 28th until after spring break.
The Japan Times claims that the number of coronavirus cases in Japan (also known as COVID-19) have exceeded 200 cases. However, this contradicts the results from Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering, who iare mapping the virus’ spread [1, 2].
As of this time of writing, there have been over 82,500 confirmed cases worldwide, and over 2,800 deaths. Over 33,000 people have had a “total recovery.”
In Japan (excluding the 700 cases on the docked Diamond Princess cruise ship), there have been 189 cases, three deaths, and 22 people making a total recovery.
The coronavirus has affected many businesses in China, including Google, Apple, Facebook, and more. It has also hindered businesses in Japan, including those centered around anime and video games [1, 2, 3].