File photo: Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Photograph:( Reuters )
Abe also promised a massive unprecedented package of steps to cushion the economy from the coronavirus pandemic.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday requested people to refrain from non-essential meetings and said coronavirus infections could escalate if people let down their guard and don't take proper containment measures.
Abe made the comments at a news conference in Tokyo.
Abe also promised a massive unprecedented package of steps to cushion the economy from the coronavirus pandemic, saying the country was close to a national emergency as infections surged in Tokyo.
Abe told a country that is seeing a rising number of deaths and cases from the outbreak that the "huge, powerful" measures would be greater than the response to the global financial crisis of 2008.
"Japan is holding up barely, but it would not be strange if there were a rapid spread (of the virus) at any time," Abe told a nationally televised news conference, though he held back from declaring a state of emergency.
He also announced plans to approve the drug Avigan that has proved helpful in treatment.
The government will craft the stimulus within about 10 days, Abe said, as officials confirmed a further 60 cases in Tokyo.
(With inputs from Reuters)