Japan coronavirus infections top 50,000 as pace of spread increases

Kyodo News

Posted at Aug 11 2020 05:23 AM | Updated as of Aug 11 2020 07:02 AM

People shop near empty food shelves at a supermarket in Tokyo in April 6, 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Philip Fong, AFP/File

TOKYO - Japan's total coronavirus cases topped 50,000 Monday with 836 new cases reported, increasing by 10,000 in just one week, as urban centers including Tokyo and Osaka continue to see high levels of infections since the central government fully lifted the nationwide state of emergency in late May.

The pace of the virus spread has picked up since the figure reached 20,000 in early July, eclipsing the 30,000 mark in late July and 40,000 on Aug. 3.

The nationwide tally includes about 700 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined in Yokohama in February.

The Tokyo metropolitan government reported 197 new cases of the novel coronavirus, down from the 331 infections the previous day, while Osaka Prefecture confirmed 123 cases compared to 195 Sunday.

Since July 29, the nationwide tally has constantly exceeded 1,000 cases per day except for Aug. 3. New cases tend to be lower over the weekend due to a slowdown in reporting of test results.

The daily figures reflect the most recent totals reported by health authorities and medical institutions.

The capital, which has a population of nearly 14 million and has the highest number of infections in the country, saw a daily record of 472 reported earlier this month.

Average daily new infections over the last seven days stood at 335.9, according to the city government, which has raised its own alert for the pandemic to the highest of four levels, meaning "infections are spreading."

Meanwhile, the number of patients in the capital with severe symptoms increased to 24 from 23 the previous day, according to the metropolitan government.

The country has been seeing continuous daily counts of over 1,000 new infections recently.

The number of both deaths and severe cases has also been steadily rising amid concerns that the spread of the virus could strain the country's medical system.

Furthermore, the government's "Go To Travel" subsidy campaign, launched last month to help revive the domestic tourism industry, has stirred worries it could worsen the spread of the virus.

Tokyo has requested residents to refrain from travel or returning to their hometowns for the Bon holiday season, in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

It has also requested karaoke venues and establishments serving alcohol to close by 10 p.m., which came into effect last week and will continue through the end of August.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike has said she would declare a state of emergency in the capital if necessary.