National

Tokyo reports 47 new COVID-19 cases, highest since May 5

Kyodo, JIJI, staff report

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government on Sunday reported 47 new coronavirus infections in the capital, with 18 of them confirmed through a group examination newly initiated in the Kabukicho entertainment district in Shinjuku Ward, Gov. Yuriko Koike said.

Among the infected are host club employees.

Of the 29 other infected people, 14 more are related to nightlife venues — for a total of 32 yoru no machi (nighttime entertainment district) infections — while five are linked to Musashino Central Hospital in the city of Koganei, where group infections have occurred.

Sunday marks the first time the capital has recorded over 40 infections in a single day since May 5, when 57 cases were reported. It marks a steep rise from 24 the previous day and the fourth straight day that the capital has recorded at least 20 cases.

The spike resulted from very active testing, Koike said, suggesting that the latest figure cannot be compared with the high daily infection numbers reported previously. The metropolitan government plans to further promote group examinations while monitoring the situation in the capital, Koike added.

Sunday’s figure, which brings the total number of cases reported in Tokyo to 5,544, comes as the capital tries to get its battered economy back on track by further easing business restrictions.

The Tokyo government is asking people working at nightclubs and similar entertainment establishments to regularly take coronavirus tests as part of new measures to stem the spread of the virus in nightlife districts in the capital, such as Kabukicho.

Koike stopped short of making new business closure requests.

“By taking tests proactively, (I want) people to recognize their infections and be careful not to transmit to others,” Koike said, adding that she will set up a new task force on Monday to discuss testing and medical care systems in the capital.

On Thursday evening, Koike announced the lifting of the Tokyo Alert, a warning on the upward trend of the virus.

To address concerns over nightlife establishments, Yasutoshi Nishimura, the Cabinet minister in charge of dealing with the pandemic, announced new guidelines Saturday.

The guidelines call on operators to keep the contact information of customers for about a month and maintain an interpersonal distance of at least 1 to 2 meters, if possible.

Subject to the guidelines are cabarets and other hospitality services, live music venues and nightclubs.

On Sunday, Nishimura said there is no change in the government’s policy of lifting its business suspension request for nightlife establishments on Friday as planned, calmly responding to the spike in new cases in Tokyo.

Also noting that the surge came as a result of the start of group tests for virus infection in Kabukicho, Nishimura told a news conference, “I want to think positively that progress is being made in the efforts to prevent the second wave of infections.”

The government “has no immediate plan” to change the policy of removing the business closure request on Friday, he said.

Earlier on Sunday, Nishimura held a meeting with Koike. They agreed to ensure the thorough implementation of the government’s guidelines on the prevention of coronavirus infections at nightlife establishments, live music venues and nightclubs.

Kenichi Yoshizumi, mayor of Shinjuku, also attended the meeting.

They confirmed that measures, such as a survey on the amount of the novel coronavirus contained in sewage, will be promoted in Shinjuku, home to one of the largest nightlife districts in Japan.

They also agreed that such measures will be introduced in downtown areas of other municipalities in Tokyo and across Japan.

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