The central and Tokyo metropolitan governments have agreed to expand strategically the scope of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing for the novel coronavirus.

The agreement was reached at a meeting of economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike and others as new COVID-19 cases in the Japanese capital on Friday hit a record high for the second consecutive day.

The expansion of PCR testing was part of measures adopted at the meeting to prevent the spread of the virus at bars, clubs and other nightlife establishments with hospitality services.

The measures also included bolstering the function of public health centers by increasing the number of nurses and other staff and setting up supplementary facilities.

The meeting was also joined by the mayors of Tokyo’s Shinjuku and Toshima wards, which host nightlife districts where new infection cases have been increasing.

“Containment measures at bars and clubs are important,” Nishimura said at a news conference after the meeting.

PCR tests will be intensively conducted on a wide range of people in nightlife districts.

“The intensive testing may increase the number of coronavirus cases, but these containment measures will help alleviate worries,” Koike said at a news conference after the meeting.

Operators of nightlife establishments will be asked to abide by the metropolitan government’s coronavirus guidelines. They will be entitled to aid if they shut after having new infection cases.

Nishimura said similar containment measures will be taken in other prefectures.

Tokyo reported a new single-day record of 243 coronavirus infections Friday as Japan relaxed its guidelines for holding large sporting and other events despite growing fears of a second wave of cases. The latest figure for the capital, with a population of around 14 million, topped the previous single-day record of 224 set Thursday.

Less than half of Friday’s total, or 110, were those related to nightlife establishments such as host clubs, according to the Tokyo government. People aged 30 and below comprised 80 percent of the total, while those infected through unknown routes came to 101.

At over 7,500 cases, Tokyo accounts for more than a third of the total number of confirmed cases in Japan. The nationwide total stands at over 20,700, excluding 712 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined in Yokohama in February.

At a news conference earlier on Friday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that the central government has no plans to declare a state of emergency over the pandemic again.

There is “no change” in the government’s decision to ease coronavirus-related restrictions on events starting on Friday.

“We’ll closely watch the situation with a sense of vigilance,” Suga said, citing increases in coronavirus cases whose infection routes are unknown and those in elderly people.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.



Your news needs your support

Since the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis, The Japan Times has been providing free access to crucial news on the impact of the novel coronavirus as well as practical information about how to cope with the pandemic. Please consider subscribing today so we can continue offering you up-to-date, in-depth news about Japan.