Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday urged schools to close nationwide for several weeks from March 2 to prevent the spread of the new corona virus.
"The government considers children's health and safety above all else," said Shinzo Abe.
"We urge all elementary, middle, and high schools across the country to temporarily close from March 2nd next week until their spring break."
Spring holidays for public schools in Japan usually start in late March and last for several weeks.
"Efforts are being made in various areas to prevent the spread of infections in children," he added.
Many public elementary and middle schools in northern Hokkaido were closed on Thursday after the governor requested that public schools be closed for about a week.
The city of Osaka also said that it will close its kindergartens, elementary and middle schools for two weeks from Saturday.
Shinzo Abe's call comes after the government asked major event organizers to consider canceling the event and asked companies to allow employees to work from home or commute out of peak hours.
The authorities have said that the next two to three weeks will be crucial to curb the outbreak of the virus that infected nearly 200 people in the country and has been linked to the deaths of three people.
Japan is also struggling to cope with the aftermath of a cruise ship that has been quarantined off its coast, where more than 700 people have tested positive for the virus. Four people who got sick on the boat died.
"It is extremely important to prevent a patient cluster from forming another, and we believe that we should take thorough measures," said Shinzo Abe at a cabinet-level meeting on the virus.
He also urged ministers to work on laws to minimize the negative impact on the economy and daily life of the Japanese.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)