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Coronavirus live updates: US Forces Japan declares public health emergency

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narvikk/iStock(NEW YORK) — A global pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed at least 9,648 people in the United States.

The United States is, by far, the hardest-hit country with more than 337,000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

The first cases of COVID-19 were detected in China back in December. Now, more than 1.2 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the disease and over 264,000 of them have recovered while another 69,500 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University’s count. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations’ outbreaks.

Italy still has the highest death toll in the world — almost 16,000.

Here’s how the story is developing Monday. All times Eastern:

3 a.m.: US Forces Japan declares public health emergency

The commander of the United States Forces Japan on Monday announced a public health emergency for the Kanto Plain “due to the steady increase” of novel coronavirus infections in nearby Tokyo.

The declaration, which will remain in effect through May 5, gives commanders the authority to enforce compliance of health protection measures on those who live and work on all U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine installations and facilities located on the Kanto Plain, the largest lowland in Japan that covers more than half of the eastern Kanto region, including Tokyo.

“Protecting the health and safety of everyone associated with U.S. Forces Japan is my number one priority,” Lt. Gen. Kevin Schneider, U.S. Forces Japan commander, said in a statement Monday. “I cannot underscore enough the importance of personal responsibility at a time like this. Stopping the spread of COVID-19 requires the entire team — service members, civilians, families, and our Japanese partners.”

The announcement comes as the daily count of new COVID-19 cases in the Japanese capital have jumped in recent days, from 78 on March 31 to 143 on Sunday, according to data published on the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s website.

Last month, an active duty member of the U.S. Forces Japan tested positive for COVID-19.

In total, 1,033 people have tested positive for the disease in Tokyo and 30 of them have died, according to the government’s website. A count kept by Johns Hopkins University show’s Japan’s nationwide tally is up to 3,654 diagnosed cases and 85 deaths.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe apparently plans to declare a state of emergency in major cities such as Tokyo amid the recent surge in infections, according to local media reports.

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