All national papers wrote that over 1,620 people tested positive for the novel coronavirus across the country on Thursday, breaking the previous record of 1,590 that was reported on Aug. 7. Close to 400 people in Tokyo were infected with the disease, while the corresponding figures for Hokkaido, Osaka, Kanagawa, and Aichi were 236, 231, 147, and 143. Hokkaido, Hyogo, and two other prefectures detected a record numbers of COVID-19 patients. Prime Minister Suga reportedly instructed Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Nishimura yesterday to take necessary steps in coordination with prefectural governors to head off an “exponential increase” in transmissions. “We are strongly alarmed by the arrival of a big wave similar to what we witnessed in July and August,” Nishimura told the press on Thursday. While dismissing the possibility of declaring a state of emergency at least for now, the cabinet member hinted that a lockdown may become necessary if the pathogen continues to spread widely.
The seven-day rolling average of daily cases nationwide was 1,143 as of Tuesday, approximately 80% of the level registered at the peak of the second wave in early August. It doubled from the previous level in just two weeks. Although host clubs and other nightlife establishments were a primary source of transmissions in the previous wave, numerous cluster infections have been detected lately on college campus, among foreign communities, and in workplaces. In addition to those in their 20s and 30s, the disease has been spreading among people aged 40 or older. The number of patients hospitalized nationwide increased by about 20% in two weeks to almost 3,600 as of Nov. 4, with 13% of beds secured for COVID-19 patients having been occupied. Public health authorities in Hokkaido and Osaka are particularly concerned about their beds being filled rapidly. However, the mortality rate reportedly has remained relatively low at about 1% since the second wave in the summer, as compared with 5% in the first wave in the spring. Due to aggressive testing, more people with no or minor symptoms have been detected early, resulting in a decline of the percentage of patients suffering from serious symptoms.