Tokyo sets virus case record as holiday begins
TOKYO — The city of Tokyo announced a record 366 new daily coronavirus cases on Thursday, exceeding 300 for the first time as Japan begins a four-day weekend with many people joining a tourism promotion campaign that the government is pushing despite concerns of a new wave of infections nationwide.
The number of daily cases in Tokyo had fallen to just several in late May after the government ended a national state of emergency but has climbed steadily since late June, with the number tripling in the first three weeks of July. Tokyo now has 10,420 confirmed cases, including 327 deaths.
“Please be mindful of your actions and do your utmost not to get infected, and not to infect others,” Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said Thursday.
Koike on Wednesday asked residents to stay home as much as possible during the long weekend, even though Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has gone ahead with a “Go To” tourism promotion campaign that excludes Tokyo for now to help the badly hit tourism industry.
Until recently, officials have said most cases were limited to younger people linked to nightlife entertainment districts, but experts at a Tokyo task force meeting on Wednesday said infections have spread to older people and to regular homes, workplaces, and restaurants.
Tokyo hospitals are also on the brink of running out of space. The city, which earlier allocated 1,000 beds for coronavirus patients, has asked hospitals to secure up to 2,800 beds, but preparations are taking time and beds are filling up quickly. Koike said the city is also in the process of securing hotel rooms for less sick patients.
Three prefectures neighboring Tokyo — Kanagawa, Saitama, and Chiba — also recorded record daily cases on Wednesday for a combined total of 170. Osaka also had a daily record of 121.
Nationwide, Japan had 775 new confirmed cases Wednesday, the largest daily increase since 720 on April 11 during an earlier peak, for a national total of 27,029 cases.
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