Japan "on the brink" of emergency as it tries to contain virus

Japan will ban entry of foreigners from 73 countries and ask everyone arriving from abroad to quarantine for two weeks.

The latest measures in its struggle to contain the coronavirus.

Medical experts advising the government say the rapid spread of contagion is severely straining hospitals in the capital Tokyo, in Osaka and some other prefectures.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary told reporters on Wednesday (April 1) that now is a very important time to avoid a rapid increase in infections. But admitted the country remains on the brink.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is facing growing public calls to declare a state of emergency that would give local governors greater clout to tell residents to stay home.

Many other countries hit by the pandemic have imposed legally binding lockdowns with serious penalties for violators.

Japan had confirmed 2,362 domestically transmitted cases of the coronavirus and 67 deaths as of Wednesday, public broadcaster NHK said.

Relatively small tallies compared with those of the United States, China and Europe.

But Tokyo has seen the biggest jump in cases, with another 66 on Wednesday for a total of 587.

Adding to pressure on the government to take more drastic measures.