Japan's minister in charge of COVID-19 response on Tuesday asked prefectural governors to join forces in fighting the virus, local media reported.
At a teleconference with the local governors on Tuesday, Japanese Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura explained the four-stage index proposed by a panel of experts last week.
Nishimura said he expects local authorities to use the index as a standard to evaluate their situation and take proactive steps accordingly to address local needs.
The approach includes six criteria, including case numbers and the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests results.
Many parts of Japan are at stage two in which the epidemic is gradually spreading, according to the panel of experts.
The minister said he hopes to work together with local governments and quickly share information.
He said the nationwide situation is at a crucial stage, stressing the need to curb infections among the elderly, and to secure beds for patients with serious symptoms.