Tokyo reported 317 new cases of the novel coronavirus Wednesday — the first time the capital has recorded more than 300 in a single day since late August — amid an ongoing surge in new infections throughout the country.
Individuals in their 20s, 30s and 40s accounted for 187 — more than half — of the 317 infections announced by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. The capital conducted just 1,010 polymerase chain reaction tests Sunday. The results of the tests on Sundays, which often take three days to be received, collected and reported, are demonstrably lower than on weekdays, when the capital routinely conducts over 4,000 tests.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the capital has reported more than 33,000 infections. 38 individuals are currently hospitalized with serious symptoms, according to the metropolitan government.
New infections in the capital are rising amid an ongoing nationwide uptick in new cases that began in late October.
On Tuesday, Japan reported more than 1,200 cases nationwide, bringing the country’s total past 111,300 infections.
“We are responding with the utmost precaution,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said during a news conference Wednesday afternoon. “In the regions experiencing a surge in new infections, it’s necessary that we significantly increase testing capacity as well as deploy experts and medical workers to provide assistance.”
Only a third of hospital beds available for COVID-19 patients are currently in use, even in prefectures reporting an uptick in new cases, Kato said, adding that the government will continue to trace cluster infections to the best of their ability.
Just in the past week, an abrupt increase in infections has been seen in Osaka, Nagoya, Aichi and Kanagawa prefectures.
Hokkaido reported 197 cases Wednesday, just two days after it saw a record-breaking 200 new infections. The cumulative total in the prefecture is 4,561 cases.
Also Wednesday, Osaka Prefecture reported an all-time high of 256 new cases, bringing the total in the prefecture past 1,800. Neighboring Hyogo Prefecture, meanwhile, reported 70 additional cases of COVID-19, breaking a record set on July 31 when it recorded 62 cases.
Single-day records were also set in Saitama Prefecture, which registered 116 infections, Ibaraki Prefecture, with 20 cases, and Niigata Prefecture, which logged 16 cases.
Last week, Japan reported more than 1,000 new cases nationwide for three consecutive days, prompting concern at the highest levels of government.
During a meeting Monday, the central government’s coronavirus subcommittee urged top officials to increase testing capacity in food establishments where cluster infections have occurred, establish multilingual consultations to support non-Japanese residents and foreign communities, and to take further precautions as the winter season approaches and colder weather drives people indoors, where experts say poor circulation in close quarters could further spread the virus.
Shigeru Omi, chair of the subcommittee and director of the Japan Community Healthcare organization, said new cases across the country could increase rapidly if countermeasures aren’t taken immediately.
“New cases are certainly on the rise across the country,” Omi said.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the situation “needs to be dealt with immediately.”
“To contain the virus and protect people’s lives, we must increase the country’s testing capacity and send experts to the areas suffering the most infections,” Suga said.
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