Japan on Wednesday reported a record of 795 new daily coronavirus infections, exceeding the previous single-day high set in April, as the country battles a resurgence of the virus after it lifted a state of emergency less than two months ago.
The figure brings the nationwide tally to over 27,800, including some 700 from the Diamond Princess, the cruise ship quarantined in Yokohama in February.
Since the nationwide state of emergency was entirely lifted in late May, there has been a surge in the number of new infections particularly in Tokyo's nightlife establishments such as hostess and host bars, as well as other urban areas across Japan.
Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike urged its residents to avoid nonessential outings during the upcoming four-day holiday as Tokyo's cumulative coronavirus cases topped the 10,000 mark.
Tokyo's total reached 10,054 as 238 new infections were reported on the day, topping the 200-mark for the second day, Koike told reporters. Also Wednesday, Osaka Prefecture in western Japan confirmed 121 new cases, its highest daily tally.
Saitama Prefecture, near Tokyo, also recorded its highest daily figure of 62 cases Wednesday, while Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures also neighboring the capital marked their highest numbers since the lifting of the state of emergency.
Economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who is also in charge of the coronavirus response, said the government would maintain the guideline allowing up to 5,000 people to attend sporting and other events, postponing its earlier plan to relax the restriction on Aug. 1.
The government decided that it was too soon to ease the guideline, implemented since July 10, after a meeting of a government panel whose members include infectious disease experts and economists, Nishimura said.
Tokyo, which confirmed its first virus case on Jan. 24, saw triple-digit single-day new infections on all but two days in July. A record of 293 cases was reported last Friday.
"We have to stop the spread of infection no matter what. If you are going out, I ask citizens to take thorough measures to prevent infection," Koike said at a press conference. "Moreover, I want citizens to refrain from going out as much as possible" during the four-day weekend starting Thursday.
"We need to keep our guard up to be ready for a second wave" of infections, she said.
On July 15, the metropolitan government raised its pandemic alert to the highest of four available levels, indicating "infections are spreading."
Osaka Prefecture, however, will not request its residents to stop going to other prefectures in the Kansai region, despite seeing a recent rise in daily figures.
"Compared with the negative impact the travel restriction request has on the economy, it does little to reduce the spread of infection," Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura said.