Tokyo logs 944 coronavirus cases, 2nd highest daily record

Dec 31 , 2020. 12 hours ago – 23:02 KYODO NEWS

TOKYO – The Tokyo metropolitan government reported 944 cases of the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, marking the second-highest daily tally on record and prompting Gov. Yuriko Koike to warn that the capital is facing “a third wave” of infections of an “unprecedented magnitude.”

Tokyo had just logged a record 949 infections on Saturday, and saw the seven-day rolling average of new cases top 800 for the first time at 815.7.

“We are in a very severe and crucial phase,” Koike said at a news conference. “It is no surprise that an explosion of infections could occur at any time.”

With the latest figure, the capital has seen 58,840 confirmed cases in total.

Koike said that if the situation continues to worsen, the metropolitan government “may have no choice but to request” that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declares a state of emergency over the pandemic.

Across Japan, virus cases have been increasing in December, and a total of 3,852 new cases were reported on Wednesday, the second-highest level on record.

The recent discovery of new strains of the COVID-19 virus — first detected in Britain and South Africa, and then Japan and elsewhere in the world — has warranted “the highest levels of alert and precaution,” the Tokyo governor said.

Calling the year-end and New Year holidays a “watershed,” Koike said individual actions will determine the pandemic’s situation next year and urged people to heed precautionary measures.

Specifically, she called on Tokyo residents to stay at home and refrain from visiting their hometowns and eating out with others during the holidays.

On Monday, the government suspended entry to most nonresident foreign nationals through January as several people in Japan had been infected with the new variant.

A further increase in cases could propel a national debate on whether the Olympics and Paralympics, to be held in Tokyo in summer and already postponed by a year due to the virus, should proceed as planned.

The Tokyo metropolitan government also said Wednesday that there are 85 hospitalized patients who are seriously ill with the COVID-19 infection, up one from Tuesday.

Tokyo’s alert regarding the strains on its medical system has been raised since Dec. 17 to the highest of four levels, the first time since the virus outbreak.