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Japan rushes to house thousands of homeless people

Tokyo, April 13 (IANS) Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Japanese authorities were rushing to house thousands of homeless people following the closure of internet cafes, a common destination for those without secure housing across the country, a media report said on Monday.

They internet cafes in Japan’s major cities are often open around the clock and many feature private booths, showers and entertainment, including games, the BBC report said.

But the businesses have been ordered to close their doors to help contain the spread of the COVID-19.

While Japan officially has a low homeless rate compared with many other developed nations, more than 4,000 “internet cafe refugees” reside in the capital Tokyo, according to the BBC report.

Officials in Tokyo said that they have begun providing them with hotel rooms and other forms of temporary accommodation.

In neighbouring Saitama, authorities have also repurposed a sports hall for 200 people.

Japan has a relatively small number of infections compared with other countries – 6,748 confirmed cases and 108 virus-related deaths as of Sunday.

But there were concerns that a recent surge in cases in Tokyo could lead to a major outbreak.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has declared a month-long state of emergency, covering Tokyo, Osaka and five other prefectures.

–IANS

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