Amid a push to rejuvenate the economy by boosting intra-Japan tourism, the country’s coronavirus crisis is worsening with experts terming the rise in infections a “third wave”.
Capital Tokyo reported 393 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, up 76 from Wednesday, while the country reported 1,547 cases, first since Aug. 7 when it reported 1,596 cases, Kyodo News Agency reported.
It is the second time since Aug. 20 that Tokyo recorded over 300 infections today. There are nearly 33,700 cases in Tokyo, the highest among the country’s 47 provinces.
“This can be regarded as a third wave [of the coronavirus],” said Toshio Nakagawa, head of the Japan Medical Association.
Japan has reported over 113,000 cases, including 1,876 deaths, since the outbreak. The country has seen infections rising above 1,000 for the past several days.
However, the government has ruled out a state of emergency to stem the spread of the infection.
“At this stage, we are not in a situation to declare a state of emergency,” said Yasutoshi Nishimura, a minister in charge of the Japanese government’s coronavirus response.
Earlier, under the Shinzo Abe administration, Japan had imposed an emergency in May to halt the coronavirus spread.
The anti-coronavirus restrictions adversely affected the country’s economy which contracted by over 28% this year.
Now, the government is also mulling a fresh economic package of around $100 billion to offset the economic crisis.
Nishimura said he felt a “sense of crisis over the possibility of an explosive spread of COVID-19 across the country.”
He warned of a surge in infections, saying the government will continue with restrictions on attendance at events such as professional sports games until the end of February. There is a limit on large crowds to 50% of a venue’s capacity.
“If the spread of infection continues, we will have to take stronger measures,” he said, suggesting falling temperatures and low humidity “could exacerbate the outbreak”.
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