Tokyo residents advised to stay home as coronavirus toll rises

Tokyo’s governor on Wednesday urged residents of the Japanese capital to stay at home during an upcoming four-day holiday weekend, as the number of new local COVID-19 cases surged.

The city is on its highest coronavirus alert level, with experts warning infections appear to be spreading rapidly and widely.

“The infections are spreading not only among young people but also among middle-aged and older people,” Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said during a meeting with infectious disease experts.

She also suggested that Tokyo residents, especially elderly people and those with pre-existing conditions, avoid going out as much as possible.

Tokyo hit a new daily record of 293 cases last week, and the figure has stayed above 200 in recent days.

Koike said the city was seeing infections at restaurants and theaters, not just nightlife areas as in previous weeks. Clusters have also been reported at workplaces and schools.

Japan will begin a four-day holiday from Thursday, with Friday the day that the now-postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics would have opened.

The Games are now set to begin on July 23, 2021, and organizers will hold a small-scale year-to-go celebration on Thursday, but without any spectators in light of the rising number of cases.

The increasing number of daily cases in the capital has also prompted the government to exclude Tokyo residents from a nationwide program to subsidize domestic tourism.

Uneasiness among the Japanese government and residents was also triggered by the recently sharp increasing COVID-19 positive cases in the U.S. military bases in Japan which was thought to become a loophole in Japan’ fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The total number of the coronavirus positive cases at the U.S. military bases stood at 140 as of Thursday, according to information released on the website of the U.S. Forces Japan and the prefectural government.

Japan so far reported 26,767 cases with 988 deaths caused by COVID-19 since the disease was first detected in the country, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.