Tokyo Daily Coronavirus Cases Exceed 1,500, Renewing Record - Media
TOKYO: Tokyo’s had a record 1,591 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, local media reported, as Japan braces for a new state of emergency for the greater metropolitan area.
Rising infections have driven the Tokyo and surrounding areas to the highest level of a four-stage alert, prompting regional governors to urge for a declaration of emergency that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is expected to announce on Thursday.
The health ministry held a meeting of infectious disease experts on Wednesday, the second in as many days. They have called for stricter and longer countermeasures, while Suga has sought a more limited response to avoid damaging the economy.
“Even if we take strong measures immediately, it will be difficult to bring the Tokyo metropolitan area down to stage 3 by the end of January,” Takaji Wakita, chief of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, told reporters after the meeting.
Without new measures, daily infections in Tokyo could nearly triple to 3,500 per day by February and hit 7,000 by March, according to simulations by Kyoto University scientist Hiroshi Nishiura. An emergency declaration would need to last at least two months to bring infections to manageable levels, he said.
Nationwide, COVID-19 infections reached a daily record of 4,915 yesterday, while deaths were also an all-time high of 76.
The government’s top spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary
Katsunobu Kato, said a decision would likely come on Thursday on
whether to impose the second state of emergency since the start
of the pandemic.
Japanese media said it would take effect by Friday and last
about a month. The government is anxious about the
economic impact of another state of emergency as it prepares to
host the Olympics this summer.
Tokyo and the three surrounding prefectures have asked residents to refrain from non-essential, non-urgent outings after 8 p.m. from Friday until at least the end of the month, and said restaurants must close by that time.
But measures are likely to be far less sweeping than they
were during last year’s roughly month-long state of emergency,
during which schools and non-essential businesses shut down, as
the government seeks to keep economic damage to a minimum.
A second lockdown in and around Japan’s capital could cause
the economy to contract in the first quarter of this year,
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