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The rampant spread of COVID-19 in Tokyo has reached disaster level, experts have said, warning of the possibility that there are many cases that have not been detected.

Medical care systems in the capital will collapse if infections continue to spiral out of control, the experts said Friday at a metropolitan government meeting on the COVID-19 situation.

The seven-day average of new cases in Tokyo stood at 4,630.6 as of Wednesday, marking a record high for the third straight week. The number of severely ill COVID-19 patients came to 275, occupying about 70% of hospital beds set aside for the patients.

In the past week, the number of patients staying at home rose by about 3,000 to 22,226. Five patients, in their 30s to 70s, died at home.

The rate of positive test results rose 1.5 percentage points to 24% in the past week.

The daily number of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and other tests to detect the coronavirus is as low as around 13,000, although the metropolitan government claims that it is capable of testing 97,000 people a day.

A pedestrian crossing near Tokyo's Shibuya Station on Saturday | KYODO
A pedestrian crossing near Tokyo’s Shibuya Station on Saturday | KYODO

It's possible that people who need to get tested can't do so swiftly, said Masataka Inokuchi, deputy chief of the Tokyo Medical Association.

"There might be many cases that have not been detected," Inokuchi said, calling on the metropolitan government to test more people.

Norio Omagari of the National Center for Global Health and Medicine said that medical care systems have become seriously dysfunctional amid the surge.

"We'll be unable to save lives that could have otherwise been saved," he said.

While noting that infections still center on people in their 20s and 30s, Omagari warned that cases among children age 10 or younger and older people age 65 and up are also surging.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike once again asked residents to refrain from going out in a bid to help contain the further spread of the virus.

"Even for essential outings, we want the frequency, number of people and time taken to be reduced by half," she said.

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