Tokyo coronavirus cases drop to 168 on Monday, governor says

Japanese officials have said new restrictions to stem infections are not needed for now. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (BLOOMBERG) - Tokyo coronavirus cases dropped below 200 for a second day with 168 recorded Monday (July 20), even as infections continue to spread beyond the capital.

The drop in reported cases was announced by Governor Yuriko Koike in remarks streamed by public broadcaster NHK. Virus cases on Mondays are often lower due to hospitals being closed at the weekend, leading to fewer tests being conducted.

The city had 188 new cases on Sunday and 290 on Saturday, with the government contending that the increased number of cases is partly due to more aggressive testing.

The health ministry will make more people eligible for publicly funded coronavirus tests, NHK reported, citing the ministry's new criteria.

Japanese officials have said new restrictions to stem infections are not needed for now, even as daily totals for the capital rose to a record 293 on Friday.

Recent spikes in cases in Tokyo caused the national government to backtrack on a campaign aimed at promoting regional tourism.

The capital has been excluded from the program, which starts this week.

The capital's emergence as a hotspot for infections also prompted the Universal Studios Japan amusement park in Osaka to extend the expiration date of tickets purchased by Tokyo residents and to ask visitors from the city to choose the timing of their trip carefully.

The park has begun to lift some pandemic restrictions, allowing people from all over the country to enter as of Monday.

Other prefectures have also been reporting infection surges since the lifting of the state of emergency in May, raising concern about the government's steps to thwart the coronavirus.

A majority of Japanese are not content with the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic, a poll conducted Saturday showed, with 64 per cent saying the government should declare a localised state of emergency and another 20 per cent calling for one nationwide.

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