Tokyo reports record 224 daily coronavirus infections

Kyodo News

Posted at Jul 09 2020 08:00 PM

This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the US. Virus particles are shown emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. The spikes on the outer edge of the virus particles give coronaviruses their name, crown-like. Image captured and colorized at NIAID's Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) in Hamilton, Montana. NIAID

TOKYO - The number of new coronavirus infections reported in Tokyo hit a single-day record of 224 on Thursday, the metropolitan government said.

The record follows the confirmation of 75 new coronavirus infections the previous day in the capital, dropping to double digits for the first time in 7 days.

"The medical system is presently not under strain," health minister Katsunobu Kato told reporters in response to the latest figure.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga echoed the view and said the central government is not considering declaring another state of emergency at the moment.

The top government spokesman also said it would relax the rule for audience sizes at events starting Friday as planned, with the maximum allowable raised to 5,000.

Tokyo has been striving to stem a rebound in infections since a nationwide state of emergency was lifted in late May. The pace of increase in virus infections in Japan had slowed after new cases in the capital peaked at the previous high of 206 on April 17.

The number of confirmed cases related to nightlife establishments has risen recently, particularly in Ikebukuro, a major commercial and entertainment district in Tokyo, and the Kabukicho area in the Shinjuku district, according to officials.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said at a task force meeting that the rising number of reported infections was a result of increased testing, but added, "We need to be vigilant about trends in the number of infections."

As for transmission routes, Koike said infections were reported among young people attending parties or having dinners with friends, in addition to those infected at nightlife establishments.

The metropolitan government has 4 alert levels for infection conditions as well as health delivery in the capital of about 14 million people.

The former was maintained from last week at the second-highest level, meaning infections are beginning to increase, while the latter was lifted by one notch to the second-highest level meaning health delivery needs to be strengthened.

On Tuesday, Koike said the metropolitan government plans to extend financial assistance to nightclubs and other facilities in Ikebukuro if they suspend operations at the request of authorities due to group infections.

Koike has also requested residents to refrain from non-essential travel to other prefectures amid growing concern over a second wave of infections.

At over 7,000 cases, Tokyo makes up around a third of the total number of confirmed cases in the country.