Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Japan has been postponed so both countries can fight the coronavirus outbreak, Japan’s chief government spokesman has said.
The visit had been expected in April, but chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said it will be rescheduled when Mr Xi’s visit can be fruitful.
The virus that causes the Covid-19 illness emerged in China late last year has infected 95,000 people in more than 80 countries and caused more than 3,200 deaths.
The vast majority of cases have been in China but Japan has also been badly hit. It has confirmed 1,030 cases, including 706 from a cruise ship. Twelve deaths have been confirmed in Japan.
Sweeping measures to control the spread of the virus have been taken around the world including closed schools, travel restrictions, emptied sports stadiums and offices.
Italy, Iran and South Korea have burgeoning outbreaks.
Iran reported 92 deaths among its more than 2,900 cases, though many fear the outbreak is far bigger. Among the ill are dozens of members of the government. The Islamic republic cancelled Friday prayers for the second week to avoid public gatherings.
South Korea reported 145 new infections on Thursday, raising its total to 5,766, the second-highest in the world.
China reported 139 new cases and 31 deaths, raising its totals to 80,409 cases and 3,012 deaths. The number of cases was higher than Wednesday’s figure, but new deaths were lower, as the illness continues to decline in the country.
While hardest-hit Hubei province had most of the new cases and deaths, hospitals there released another 1,923 patients who were declared cured.