• staff report, Kyodo, Jiji


Tokyo confirmed 673 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, continuing an upward trend after topping 700 for the first time since May 26 the previous day.

The capital’s daily infection tally averaged 523.1 in the week to Thursday, compared with 439.6 the previous week. The figure above 500 brings the infection situation to Stage 4, the worst level on the government’s four-point scale.

The resurgence has fanned concern that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga may declare another state of emergency in Tokyo less than a month before the Olympics. Suga said Thursday that the Olympics could be held without spectators depending on the COVID-19 situation in Japan.

The metropolitan government has said it will request eateries to stop serving alcohol immediately if a situation on par with Stage 4 developed.

“We will closely monitor the situation and take necessary measures in a timely manner,” Suga said Wednesday at a ministerial meeting on COVID-19.

The number of people severely ill with the coronavirus in Tokyo under the metropolitan government’s standards rose by four from the previous day to 51.

An estimate from the National Institute of Infectious Diseases showed Wednesday that the delta strain, first identified in India, is likely responsible for around 30% of coronavirus infection cases in the Tokyo metropolitan area as of the end of June.

Another estimate showed that the number of daily new infections in the region may exceed 1,000 by mid-July.

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