Japan logged 1,737 daily new coronavirus cases on Saturday, renewing a record for a third consecutive day, as Tokyo, Osaka and other major cities continued to see high rates of infection.
The latest Kyodo News tally based on data released by local governments followed 1,704 cases on Friday and 1,660 the previous day, in what experts say could be the third wave of the pandemic in the country.
Tokyo reported 352 new coronavirus cases, surpassing 300 for a fourth consecutive day, the first such streak since early August.
Osaka reported 285, a daily record for the densely populated western prefecture, and Chiba Prefecture, which neighbors Tokyo, logged a record 88 cases in a single day.
Other prefectures that saw record cases on Saturday were Ibaraki, Kanagawa and Shizuoka prefectures.
Despite a resurgence of infections, people in Japan continued to head to popular tourist spots as the country entered the weekend following the two record-breaking days.
Some travelers, however, said they are apprehensive about the spike in the number of infections.
“I thought the number of infected people would decrease when I bought my ticket a month ago,” said a 17-year-old high school student who came with a friend to Maihama Station to go to Tokyo Disney Resort. “I am worried to some extent.”
The country’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido, a popular tourist spot, saw 230 infections, recording more than 200 cases for three consecutive days.
“There is a higher risk (of contracting the virus) in Hokkaido considering the population ratio, but I need to be cautious no matter where I am,” said Mitsuo Masuda, 63, who arrived at New Chitose Airport with his family.
In Osaka, many people stood in a line to enter Universal Studios Japan. A 20-year-old university student from Tokyo, who came to Osaka on an overnight bus, said: “I’m concerned that the number of cases has increased in both Tokyo and Osaka. But I think (the park) has put in place good measures against the virus, so I want to have fun.”
On Friday, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he will maintain the government’s Go To Travel subsidy campaign to support domestic tourism, despite the spike, and denied the need to declare another state of emergency.
Although recognizing the “clear signs of an upward trend” in coronavirus cases, particularly in Tokyo, Osaka and Aichi prefectures as well as Hokkaido, Suga called on the public to take “basic preventive measures” to halt the spread of infections.
The government is working with local municipalities to conduct large-scale testing and send medical personnel to regions that are experiencing outbreaks, he said.
The prime minister also instructed his Cabinet members to tackle the situation with “the utmost vigilance.”
To address growing concern about the resurgence of infections, the government said it is considering setting up a new post in the Cabinet Secretariat with enhanced authority to quarterback the country’s anti-virus measures.
The government has aimed at striking a balance between curbing the spread of COVID-19 and keeping up social and economic activities since it lifted a state of emergency in May.
Before Thursday, the previous single-day record of 1,597 new cases nationwide was logged on Aug. 7.
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