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Japan Braces for Double Disaster of Covid Outbreaks at Flooding Shelters

  • Disaster-prone country usually packs evacuees into school gyms
  • Experts urge overhaul of emergency plans to prevent clusters
Heavy rain in Tokyo on June 11.
Heavy rain in Tokyo on June 11.Photographer: Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images

Japan natural disaster evacuation plans need an overhaul as the country heads into its rainy season, experts warned, saying crowded conditions could spark coronavirus clusters that grow into another wave of infections.

The period of heavy precipitation, which typically triggers floods and landslides -- often forcing hundreds of people to take shelter together in gymnasiums -- has already settled in in some parts of Japan. Failure to prepare risks reigniting the disease, just as cases decline across most of the country and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeks to remove more restrictions and help the ailing economy.