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COVID-19 infection spreading rapidly in Tokyo metropolitan area

  • July 12, 2020
  • , All national papers
  • JMH Summary

The weekend editions of all national papers reported on the surge in COVID-19 infections in Tokyo and its three immediate neighbors, noting that a total of 620 new cases were reported in the four prefectures on Friday and Saturday, including 449 in Tokyo. There were 206 new cases in the nation’s capital on Sunday. Tokyo’s daily caseload has exceeded 200 for four consecutive days. The chairman of the Tokyo Medical Association reportedly underscored that “there is no doubt” that community transmission is growing as a result of people increasingly frequenting nightspots in Shinjuku following the lifting of the state of emergency in late May. Doctors and infectious disease experts are reportedly bracing for the possibility of a “second wave” arriving earlier than expected, with Mainichi quoting a Tokyo public health center official as saying: “The number of new cases has been increasing much faster than anticipated.” They are also reportedly worried that hospital capacity may become overloaded quickly based on the assessment that the elderly and people with underlying health issues may eventually be infected because the virus is spreading widely among young people.

 

Nikkei wrote that despite the increase in cases, the central government is apparently reluctant to request business closures, with Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga commenting on the continued surge by saying to the press on Friday: “It’s impossible to reduce the infection risk to zero.” An unnamed high-ranking GOJ official also reportedly said: “The Abe administration has decided to coexist with the coronavirus. We are prepared to bear a certain level of increase in infection.”

 

According to the dailies, in a speech delivered in Hokkaido on Saturday, CCS Suga described the continued surge in the metropolitan area as a “Tokyo problem,” apparently expressing dissatisfaction with Tokyo Governor Koike’s handling of the situation. Governor Koike and her counterparts from Kanagawa, Chiba, and Saitama held a videoconference on Friday and shared the view that the virus is rapidly spreading particularly among young people and that many of them have contracted it at nightlife establishments. As such, they issued a joint statement calling for residents to avoid large gatherings in enclosed spaces. The Saitama government reportedly decided to request businesses that are not taking proper infection prevention protocols to suspend operations.

 

Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Nishimura suggested on Sunday that if the increase in cases in the Tokyo metropolitan area continues, the central government may ask the governors of the four prefectures to request business closures.

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