• Kyodo, Reuters, Staff Report

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Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike on Wednesday requested that people refrain from going outside this weekend for nonessential reasons, due to concerns over a sharp rise in the number of coronavirus infections in the Japanese capital.

The governor also asked people to work at home as much as possible in the coming days.

“We are seeing an increasing number of individuals testing positive as of this week,” Koike said at a news conference.

The metropolitan government confirmed 41 cases the same day, more than double its previous daily record of 17 on Tuesday. Tokyo also confirmed 16 cases on Monday.

Koike said the Japanese capital is in a critical phase where it might see an explosion in the number of infections if it fails to act.

Among the nation’s 47 prefectures, it is the first time that more than 40 cases have been reported in a single day, according to a Kyodo News tally.

Eleven of Wednesday’s cases were individuals connected to a hospital in Taito Ward, while 10 or more cases were hard to track where the infections occurred, Koike said.

So far, over 200 people have tested positive for the virus in Tokyo, raising the number of domestic cases past 2,000, including about 700 from the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship quarantined near Tokyo in February.

The number of people with the coronavirus who have died in Japan stands at 54.

Koike had said Monday that a citywide lockdown, as has occurred elsewhere around the world, may become “the only option left” if various measures fail to prevent an explosive rise in cases in the capital.”

Despite ongoing measures to promote social distancing, as well as school closures and the cancellation of major public events, Tokyo was described as a region “at significant risk of further outbreaks” at a meeting of government experts last week. According to an estimate by the health ministry, Tokyo could see upwards of 530 positive cases by April 8.

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