(Update 1: adds latest figures, Yuriko Koike’s remarks)
Tokyo, Nov 19 (efe-epa).- The prime minister of Japan on Thursday asked citizens to exercise extreme care after the country reported a number of daily COVID-19 cases in recent days and said that additional measures will be taken to contain the third wave of infections.
Yoshihide Suga told reporters that the country was on “maximum alert” due to the spike in infections and urged the residents to wear a mask even on occasions such as while talking during dinner at a restaurant.
The leader added that he had asked the minister in charge of the government’s response to the coronavirus crisis, Yasutoshi Nishimura, to take additional measures to prevent the spread of the virus at a two-day meeting of the government’s expert panel to combat the pandemic. The meeting will conclude on Friday.
The measures could include reducing operating hours of bars and restaurants in the most affected prefectures, Suga said, adding that the central government will help local authorities to re-impose restrictions that were put in force in the spring.
According to the latest official data, Japan recorded 2,208 new cases on Thursday, the highest number of daily infections to date and the second day of over 2,000 new cases in the country. A total of 2,179 infections had been detected on Wednesday.
The latest data confirms the new wave of infections in Tokyo and other regions of the country.
The Tokyo region, the worst affected by the virus, also registered another record number of daily infections on Thursday, with 534 cases, even higher than the 493 recorded a day earlier.
In a press conference, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike urged the capital’s citizens to take extreme precautions and said the number of infections among the elderly is growing.
She urged the elderly as well as those with chronic ailments to avoid going out to eat.
Some 124,000 people have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 in Japan, a country of about 126 million inhabitants, while 1,947 people have died, according to the latest figures.
Another area badly affected by the new wave is the northern island of Hokkaido.
In Sapporo, Hokkaido’s largest city, the authorities have recommended that citizens stay at home until the end of November, except for essential trips.
The third wave follows the first in Japan between April and May and a second recorded in August, which had a higher number of cases but fewer deaths.
A slew of restrictions were imposed in April and May under the state of health emergency approved by the Japanese government, which was lifted on May 25. Since then there has been a progressive easing of the restrictions. EFE-EPA