• staff report, jiji, kyodo


The Tokyo Metropolitan Government raised its COVID-19 alert to the second-highest of four levels Thursday as the capital reported 3,124 new cases amid the rapid spread of the omicron variant.

The alert now stands at the second-highest level for the first time since September last year, with the daily new case count in the capital surpassing 3,000 for the first time in over four months.

The metropolitan government expects the current pace of increase to push the seven-day rolling average of new cases to around 9,500 a day within a week, compared to the 1,503.4 seen Thursday — already up 689.6% from a week earlier.

"It is entirely possible that case counts will go above 10,000," said Mitsuo Kaku, head of an expert panel at the metropolitan government. "It is important to be fully prepared in advance."

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said the capital will ask the central government to declare a quasi-state of emergency if the hospital bed occupancy rate reaches 20%, and a state of emergency if the rate reaches 50%.

The bed occupancy rate in Tokyo was 13.7% on Thursday. The number of severe cases stood at four, unchanged from Wednesday, while one new death from COVID-19 was reported.

Osaka Prefecture reported 2,452 new cases Thursday, with the prefecture recording a daily figures above 2,000 for the first time since Sept. 8.

Okinawa Prefecture reported a record high 1,817 new cases Thursday. Separately, 560 new cases were confirmed at U.S. bases in Okinawa, also a record high, the prefecture said.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.