Tokyo confirms 107 new coronavirus cases

Tokyo's daily count last exceeded 100 on May 2, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (BLOOMBERG, REUTERS) - Tokyo confirmed 107 new coronavirus cases on Thursday (July 2), the Japanese capital's highest daily tally in two months.

The figure is the highest since May 2, when the city was still in the midst of its state of emergency, national broadcaster NHK said, citing officials at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

The capital has reported more than 50 cases every day for the past week.

After lifting a state of emergency to contain the pandemic in late May and ending all restrictions on businesses and travel in June, new infections in the city have begun to climb as people return to workplaces and social gatherings.

Authorities have so far remained calm about the situation, with the cases predominantly impacting younger people in their 20s and 30s who are less likely to require hospitalisation.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said earlier this week that the government wouldn't reimpose restrictions on businesses based just on numerical guidelines.

Instead, a group of experts will meet to evaluate conditions, looking at multiple factors to determine if the situation is worsening, before making such a request, she said.

Ms Koike, who is running for a second term as Tokyo governor in a vote that is set to take place Sunday, will hold a press conference on Thursday evening after a meeting of the government's task force.

Entertainment Districts Shares in Tokyo pared gains after the reports of increased cases, with the benchmark Topix up 0.4 per cent as of 1:50 pm.

Having tackled the initial surge in cases despite an inability to force a mandatory lockdown, Japan's response to the virus has been closely watched.

With the economy in recession, authorities have been eager to reopen businesses as much as possible and have stressed there are no plans to reiterate calls for restrictions on business openings and people's movement.

Speaking before Thursday's figures were reported, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that the situation in Tokyo was different from when the state of emergency was declared.

"Unlike in late March we are not seeing a sudden increase in cases," he told reporters, adding there were no plans in place to again ask people to refrain from going outside.

Authorities have stressed that the medical system is under no strain.

Tokyo has 280 hospitalisations due to the coronavirus as of Wednesday, with just 10 of them listed as serious cases in ICUs or on ventilators.

Many of the recent cases have been attributed to Japan's nighttime entertainment district, with around 40 per cent of infections in the past week coming from host clubs and other such venues.

The city has also been conducting mass testing of host clubs in the nighttime entertainment areas of Shinjuku, which has been the source of many of the reported infections.

It was not immediately clear how many of the infections on Thursday came from such establishments which, with close contact between clients and staff and little ventilation, are ideal venues for the virus to spread.

A new cluster of infections has also been identified in the entertainment district in Ikebukuro, where more cases were found on Wednesday than in Shinjuku, including 11 from one host club alone, according to local media.

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