Shinzo Abe has ordered all schools to close
The Japanese prime minister has today ordered the closure of all schools in the country for a month in a bid to halt the spread of coronavirus.
Shinzo Abe said: 'The government considers the health and safety of children above anything else.
'We request all primary, junior high and high schools... across the nation to close temporarily from March 2 next week until their spring break.'
More than 200 people in Japan have so far contracted the virus and four people have died.
On the main northern island of Hokkaido, 13 new cases, including two children under the age of 10, were confirmed, the public broadcaster NHK reported.
Officials in Osaka had already ordered the closure of all schools in the city for a fortnight and 1,600 schools in Hokkaido were also set to close.
The move came after a woman in Osaka, which has a population of 2.6million, tested positive for the virus for a second time in one of the first cases of its kind.
The 40-year-old caught the virus while working on a tour bus in Osaka with visitors from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, in January.
She was discharged from hospital after testing negative on February 6 but fell ill again and was diagnosed with the virus for the second time on Wednesday.
All schools in Japan will close for a month in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus
At least 186 people in Japan have so far contracted the virus and four people have died. Pictured: People wearing protective face masks in front of the Olympic rings at Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo
Officials measuring body temperature at a convention hall in Tokyo
Almost 700 people have been diagnosed with the virus on board the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship and four have died.
Around 1,600 schools on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido were already set to close after an 80-year-old man with heart and lung diseases died from the virus, Governor Naomichi Suzuki announced on Thursday.
The governor requested that schools close for about a week.
An Osaka city official said the municipal government was holding a meeting late afternoon on Thursday to discuss measures concerning the virus in the city, which is about 250 miles west of the capital Tokyo.
Japan said on Thursday that preparations for a rare state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping planned for April were going ahead, even as it called for sports and cultural events to be scaled down to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.
'Things are on track for President Xi Jinping's visit to Japan, and we are proceeding as usual with preparations,' Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.
'A visit to Japan by the general secretary of China only happens once every 10 years.'
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi spoke by telephone on Wednesday evening to confirm the visit would go ahead, Japan said.
China's top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, will make a two-day visit to Japan from Friday, when he is due to meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
A senior member of the International Olympic Committee said Tuesday that if it proves too dangerous to hold the Olympics in Tokyo this summer because of the coronavirus outbreak, organizers are more likely to cancel it altogether than to postpone or move it.
Dick Pound, a former Canadian swimming champion who has been on the IOC since 1978, making him its longest-serving member, estimated there is a two-month window to decide the fate of the Tokyo Olympics, meaning a decision could be put off until late May.
He said: 'In and around that time, I'd say folks are going to have to ask: 'Is this under sufficient control that we can be confident about going to Tokyo or not?'.'
Almost 700 people have been diagnosed with the virus on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined off Japan
Global deaths from coronavirus are approaching 3,000 and cases have soared over 82,000
A woman working as a tour guide in Japan has twice tested positive for coronavirus in what is believed to be the first such case.
The 40-year-old was working on a tour bus with visitors from Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, in January.
She was first confirmed as infected with the coronavirus on January 29.
After being discharged from hospital she tested negative for the virus on February 6, although she still had a cough at the time.
She had no symptoms a week later, but returned to the doctor on February 21 complaining of a sore throat and chest pains.
On Wednesday, she tested positive for the coronavirus for a second time, officials in Osaka said.
The driver of the tour bus also tested positive for the virus.
The government has come under pressure for a relatively hands-off approach to the virus, but on Thursday the Osaka prefectural government said it would expand screening of patients to a broader group than currently stipulated by central guidelines.
'We will make sure that people who should be tested, get tested, and will avoid a worst-case scenario by preventing these people from developing symptoms and serious conditions,' Osaka governor Hirofumi Yoshimura said.
Dick Pound, a former Canadian swimming champion who has been on the IOC since 1978 said coronavirus fears could scupper the Olympics in Tokyo