Tokyo is set to report a daily record of over 280 coronavirus cases Thursday, heightening concerns that the latest infection is spreading in the broader community and set to spill beyond the capital.
The number is the most for a single day, Governor Yuriko Koike told reporters, and comes after the city conducted a record number of tests on a single day, with more than 4,000 conducted.
While the initial flare-up in Tokyo came from nightclubs, with increased daily numbers coming from more aggressive testing of bar workers, authorities have expressed concern that more cases are now coming from more everyday locales such as restaurants, bars and workplaces. Only 13 of 165 cases reported in Tokyo on Wednesday were traced to the clubs. Meanwhile, a cluster of 15 infections was reported at a construction site of Taisei Corp. in the city.
The virus is not only spreading more widely across sectors, but across the country. In Osaka, the country’s second-largest economic area, officials reported 61 infections Wednesday, the most since mid-April when the country was under a state of emergency. In the northern island of Hokkaido, a cluster was reported tied to a nightclub in Sapporo that involved more than 10 people. Meanwhile, some of the neighbouring prefectures of Tokyo have urged residents not to travel to the capital after seeing cases spike in recent weeks.
Japan as a whole reported about 450 virus cases on Wednesday, the largest since the height of the pandemic in April, before the state of emergency was lifted. A campaign designed to spur domestic tourism has been decried as liable to spread the virus around Japan, and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government will address the program after asking experts for their views.
Although officials have called for increased caution, they have so far maintained that there is no need for a broad request to close businesses because the medical system isn’t strained and a majority of new cases are young people in their 20s and 30s. The government has struck a harsher tone in recent days though, with Koike saying she may issue business closure requests to a narrow target of shops if needed, and urging residents to avoid businesses that aren’t following virus prevention guidelines.