Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the shutdown of schools is a key step in preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus. He says the coming weeks will be a crucial period in containing COVID-19.

Japan's popular cherry blossom festivals have been canceled over virus concerns. The northern island of Hokkaido, a famous tourist destination, has declared a state of emergency. Japan has reported more than 900 cases, including 700 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship. At least 11 people in Japan have died from the virus.

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