WORLD Japan's daily coronavirus cases hit record 3,271, death toll marks single-day high

WORLD

Japan's daily coronavirus cases hit record 3,271, death toll marks single-day high

Xinhua

22:29, December 23, 2020

TOKYO, Dec. 23 (Xinhua) -- Japan on Wednesday confirmed a daily record 3,271 COVID-19 cases, bringing the cumulative total to 206,988, not including those related to a cruise ship quarantined near Tokyo earlier in the year.

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walk across a traffic intersection in Ginza shopping district in Tokyo, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020. (Photo: AP)

The nation's death toll also marked a single-day high at 56, with the total number of deaths since the outbreak of the virus now reaching 3,082 people.

In Tokyo, the hardest hit by the virus of all of Japan's 47 prefectures, 748 new daily infections were reported on Wednesday, marking the second-highest daily increase on record.

As cases continue to surge, over the past nine consecutive days, the capital has reported record high cases for each day of the week. Tokyo's cumulative total of COVID-19 cases now stands at 53,130 infections.

Last Thursday, Tokyo saw a record 822 daily cases leading the Tokyo metropolitan government to raise its alert regarding the strain on the medical system to the highest on its four tier scale, marking the first time the highest alert level has been activated.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, while urging people to take increased anti-virus measures during the year-end and New Year holiday period, has also requested people to refrain from unnecessary outings.

Despite the recent surge in virus cases and the strain on the medical system, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has said there was no need to declare a national state of emergency, although said that further restrictions on bars and restaurants may be put in place.

But such is the severity of the situation here that a "medical state of emergency" was declared by the Japan Medical Association and eight other health organizations on Monday.

The pace of the virus' spread of late has many experts extremely concerned about the medical system possibly buckling as it took less than two months for the figure to double to top the 200,000-mark, compared to the nine and a half months it took to reach the 100,000-mark from when the first case was diagnosed in January.

"The spread of the virus has led to a rise in the number of hospitalized patients and those suffering from severe cases," Takaji Wakita, head of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday.

"It will be difficult to manage general medical treatment alongside the pandemic," Wakita, who also chairs a government panel of medical experts, said.

As for infections in other hard hit areas in Japan, the western prefecture of Osaka reported 312 new cases to total 27,812, while Tokyo's neighboring prefecture of Kanagawa reported 346 new daily infections to total 17,731 cases.

In the central Japanese prefecture of Aichi, 239 cases were reported Wednesday, bringing its cumulative total to 14,666, while in Japan's northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido, infections rose by 114, to total 12,495.

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