The number of fresh cases of novel coronavirus confirmed Wednesday in Japan topped 1,000 for the first time as a resurgence of infections has begun to expand beyond Tokyo.
The record single-day tally of 1,260 as of midnight, based on information given by local authorities, came after prefectures other than Tokyo with huge urban populations, including Aichi, Osaka and Fukuoka, reported their highest numbers of infections.
Iwate, which had been the last prefecture to report no coronavirus infections, confirmed its first two cases on Wednesday. The nationwide cumulative tally reached over 34,100, including around 700 cases from the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined in Yokohama in February. The death toll stood at 1,019.
The Osaka prefectural government said 221 another cases of the virus, up from 155 on Tuesday, were confirmed. As well as Osaka, Aichi Prefecture in central Japan saw a single-day record for the second straight day, confirming 167 new cases of the virus causing the COVID-19 respiratory disease.
"The situation is completely different from the one between February and April. We are feeling the strain on the number of hospital beds available, and there are even residents waiting to be admitted," Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura said at an extraordinary press conference.
The southwestern Japan prefecture of Fukuoka reported a record 101 new daily infections.
When daily new infections in Tokyo reported on July 9 surpassed 200 for the first time since a nationwide state of emergency was fully lifted in late May, the capital accounted for around 60 percent of the 356 infections confirmed across Japan that day.
But Tokyo only accounted for around 30 percent of the record 982 single-day infections of the virus reported Tuesday, reflecting a resurgence of infections that is beginning to expand throughout the country.
Despite the increase, the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe went ahead with the start of its "Go To Travel" subsidy campaign one week ago in a bid to revive the domestic tourism industry.
Given the current situation, Shigeo Iwata, 61, from Kanagawa Prefecture, said it does not make sense for the central government to continue with the campaign, under which it covers part of the cost of tourist trips.
"The number of people on the streets has been increasing since the end of the state of emergency," he said. "I think the time has come where some kind of regulation is necessary."
The Tokyo metropolitan government reported 250 new cases of the virus, down from Tuesday's 266 the previous day. The latest figure brought its cumulative total to 11,861, about half of which were reported this month.
The metropolitan government has raised its pandemic alert to the highest of four levels, meaning "infections are spreading."
But despite the capital accounting for around a third of the nationwide tally, some dining establishments around JR Shimbashi Station were bustling with people on their way home from work on Wednesday.
"Previously it seemed that people were practicing self-control by avoiding crowds and refraining from meeting with friends. But now this conscious (effort) is fading, even for myself," said 24-year-old Yuki Nakagawa from Tokyo's Bunkyo Ward.