Yuriko Koike, the governor of Tokyo on Thursday said that taking away hanami from Japanese because of coronavirus ''would be like taking away hugs from Italians''. Yuriko Koike's statement came after meeting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with whom she reportedly discussed what to do with hanami amid coronavirus outbreak. Hanami is a tradition in Japan where friends and family gather under cherry blossom trees for copious quantities of food and drink to enjoy the cherry blossom season.
However, Yuriko Koike urged Japanese citizens to refrain from having fun parties at Ueno Park, referring to a large central Tokyo park popular with partygoers who gather there annually to celebrate hanami. Meteorologists expect cherry blossoms to begin blooming around March 17 in Tokyo. Earlier last month, the Tokyo marathon was restricted for elite athletes only after the virus outbreak escalated globally. Tokyo is scheduled to host the 2020 Olympics in July, which Koike has insisted will go ahead as planned.
According to data acquired by worldometer, Japan has so far recorded 639 coronavirus cases, of which 118 have recovered fully while 505 patients are still under observation. According to the data, 16 people have lost their lives in Japan with one of them reported in the last 24 hours.
The novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has claimed more than 4,600 lives across the world and has infected over 1,26,000 people globally since it first broke out in December 2019. China is the most affected country in the world as experts believe that the virus originated from a seafood market in Wuhan city, the epicentre of the disease, where animals were reportedly being traded illegally. According to the latest reports, more than 1,000 people have died outside mainland China, which makes it the worst disease outbreak of the 21st century. Italy, Iran and South Korea are the worst affected countries outside mainland China, where a combined death toll stands at 1,247 as of March 12.