Japan confirmed a record 1,607 new coronavirus infections on Friday, as cases continue to mount throughout the country, particularly in urban areas like Tokyo and Osaka.
The previous record high of 1,581 cases was set on July 31.
With Japan’s Obon holiday season set to begin next week, concerns are growing that the movement of people will further spread the virus.
In Tokyo, 462 infections were confirmed Friday. The daily count in the Japanese capital has topped 400 for the first time in six days. Of the day’s total in Tokyo, 372 people, or about 80 percent, were in their 20s to 40s. The number of seriously ill patients grew by two from 23 the previous day.
Forty-nine people caught the virus at home, 30 at workplaces and eight in nightlife districts, such as eating and drinking establishments. Untraceable cases stood at 309.
Osaka Prefecture, meanwhile, reported 255 cases, and Okinawa Prefecture recorded 100, both record daily highs. Akita and Shiga prefectures also saw record highs, at 14 and 31 cases, respectively.
The cumulative death toll from the virus in Japan rose by seven to 1,056, with two of the new fatalities confirmed each in Kanagawa and Osaka prefectures, and one each in Chiba, Nagasaki and Kagoshima prefectures.
On Friday, Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki said that the prefectural government will limit the scope of people who can take polymerase chain reaction (PRC) tests, including some of those who have had close contact with infected people but exhibit no symptoms, in order to prevent the collapse of the medical system there. The islands prefecture saw the daily number cases hit triple digits for the first time on Friday.
Specifically, only those 65 and over, medical workers and those with a high risk of developing severe symptoms will be allowed to take PCR tests if they are asymptomatic, Tamaki said.
Over the past week, the number of people newly confirmed with the virus per 100,000 people stood at 31.57 in Okinawa, the largest among the country’s 47 prefectures.
Medical institutions in Okinawa have been very busy dealing with people who had close contact with those who have tested positive but have shown no symptoms.
“If the current situation continues, medical institutions will see their functions stop, and the treatment of severely ill patients will become difficult,” the governor warned.
In Akita Prefecture, 13 people related to an East Japan Railway Co. basketball team there tested positive. This grouping was the prefecture’s first infection cluster.
Earlier this month, the team had matches with the Noshiro Technical High School basketball team in Noshiro, Akita, as well as teams from other prefectures. A municipal government employee in the city who took part as a judge also tested positive for the virus.
In Oita Prefecture, the Oita District Court said that a male lay judge had tested positive for the virus.
The court was informed by the man ahead of a hearing Wednesday that he had developed a fever. The man had not taken a PCR test at this point, but was relieved from his role as a lay judge.
In Tokyo, Gov. Yuriko Koike has requested residents refrain from traveling during the Obon holidays, in a bid to mitigate the risk of the virus spreading.
The metropolitan government has raised its alert for the pandemic to the highest of four levels, meaning “infections are spreading.”
Tokyo has requested karaoke venues and establishments serving alcohol close by 10 p.m., which came into effect on Monday and will continue through the end of August.
Koike has warned that Tokyo authorities may declare an emergency if numbers continue to rise.
She said Friday the Tokyo government has designated two medical institutions in the capital to exclusively treat coronavirus patients with mild and moderate symptoms from the fall.
The first such facilities in Tokyo will each provide 100 beds for patients.
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.