A city assembly in eastern Japan approved an ordinance Thursday urging residents to wear face masks to counter the spread of the novel coronavirus, a first for the country.
The nonbinding ordinance is similar to a measure adopted in San Francisco in the United States that proved effective during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, according to Satoru Oki, the mayor of Yamato in Kanagawa Prefecture.
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“We have seen more and more people wearing face masks but still not enough. It should be an effective means to stop viral infections,” Oki said in a press conference.
The city, which has a population of 238,530, calls in the ordinance for residents to wear face masks to prevent the infection of others.
As of Wednesday, more than 600 coronavirus infections had been reported in Kanagawa Prefecture, according to the prefectural government.
While Japan continues to face a shortage of face masks, a video clip posted by the central government on homemade masks is available on the city’s website.