Tokyo confirmed Wednesday 317 new cases of the novel coronavirus, topping the 300 mark for the first time since Aug. 20, local officials said, amid signs of a resurgence in infections as cooler temperatures arrive and people spend more time indoors without enough ventilation.
The Japanese capital has been seeing a gradual rise in infections since the beginning of November, with the average daily number of new cases over the previous seven days exceeding 200, which is equivalent to that of late August, the month that the spread of the virus peaked in Japan.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga arrives at his office in Tokyo on Nov. 11, 2020, wearing a face mask amid continued worries over the novel coronavirus. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo
Tokyo’s cumulative total now stands at 33,377, the highest by far among Japan’s 47 prefectures.
Osaka, which has the second-highest cumulative total, reported 256 new cases on Wednesday, a record single-day increase in the western Japan prefecture since the outbreak of the virus, Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura said.
While urban areas have been seeing high numbers, there has been a rapid increase of cluster infections in northern regions such as Hokkaido, a popular tourist destination.
Hokkaido confirmed an additional 197 infections, exceeding more than 100 cases for the seventh straight day. On Monday, it confirmed a record 200 new daily coronavirus infections.
A government panel made up of health experts said Wednesday the number of infections is trending upward in the country since November, urging people to take thorough measures against the virus.
The high infection numbers across the country come amid Japan’s shift toward easing restrictions as part of efforts to revitalize the economy battered by the pandemic.
The government launched a domestic travel subsidy program in July, allowing people to make trips at a discount rate.
Japan has also lifted its entry ban on foreign travelers from such countries as Australia, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, New Zealand and Vietnam plus Taiwan for non-tourist arrivals.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the government is “dealing with the situation with maximum vigilance” at a coronavirus task force meeting held Tuesday.