• KYODO, staff report, Jiji


Tokyo saw nearly 40,000 new coronavirus cases in January, more than double the previous monthly record for infections in December, according to figures released by the metropolitan government Sunday.

The figure reflected the sharp rise in cases before Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency in the capital and surrounding prefectures on Jan. 7, urging people to stay home and asking restaurants and bars to close early.

The metropolitan government on Sunday reported 633 new coronavirus cases in Tokyo — the lowest number on a Sunday since Dec. 20 — bringing the total for January to 39,664 and the cumulative tally to 99,841. The January figure compares with 19,245 for December.

Of the 633 new cases in Tokyo reported Sunday, 122 were in their 20s, 93 in their 40s and 89 in their 50s. Those 65 or older accounted for 185 cases. Under the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s standards, the number of severely ill patients in the capital fell by one from the previous day to 140.

While infections have gradually eased under the state of emergency, the capital’s medical system remains overwhelmed and there have been cases of COVID-19 patients not being admitted to hospitals and later dying at home.

The government is scrambling to bring the pandemic under control ahead of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, set to kick off in less than six months.

Sources say Suga is gearing up to extend the state of emergency, which currently covers 11 of Japan’s 47 prefectures and is in place until Feb. 7, by as much as one month for some of the harder-hit areas.

A final decision is expected to be made this week, but a source close to Suga said an extension would be inevitable for eight of the 11 prefectures. The eight are Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama, Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo and Fukuoka prefectures.

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