Health

Tokyo registers new record of 463 COVID-19 cases, prepares its own CDC

By Yoko Kaneko and María Roldán

Tokyo, Jul 31 (efe-epa).- Tokyo registered Friday a new record of 463 daily coronavirus cases, exceeding 400 cases for the first time since the country began to be affected by the pandemic in January, and announced the establishment of its own Center for Disease Control (CDC).

The spread of the virus in the capital is at its worst level and so is the response capacity of the health system, Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike said at a Friday press conference in which she announced the figure.

The record comes after the capital registered another daily high Thursday and Koike urged nightclubs, karaokes and restaurants to reduce their operating hours, a request she reiterated Friday.

Also starting Saturday, Tokyo will launch a team to establish its own body similar to a Center for Disease Control and Prevention (popularly called CDC), which fully coordinates research, analysis and the planning of policies in the face of crises such as the current one.

Local authorities hope the organism will be ready in autumn to face the flu season, a time in which experts have warned infections could worsen.

“We must not relax the measures,” Koike said at the appearance, in which she asked the public to be aware of the worsening of contagion and to do everything possible to contain it in the workplace and the holidays. “Unfortunately this year will be a different summer.”

Japan lacks legal mechanisms to order the confinement or closure of businesses, even during a health emergency, and appeals to individual responsibility to reduce outlets and business activities to fight the virus.

Local and national authorities did establish certain restrictions on opening hours and public management events, as well as capacity limitations on events, measures that have been widely respected even by private organizations.

The country had planned to completely lift capacity limitations in August (which currently stands at half the capacity of the venue, up to a maximum of 5,000 attendees), but Koike warned that the restrictions will continue in force in Tokyo at least until the end of August.

The governor also urged to use the government application COCOA to trace contacts with COVID-19 patients, available since the end of June.

According to the most recent data from the Ministry of Health, until Thursday afternoon the “software” had been downloaded 9.5 million times (equivalent to 7.5 percent of the population) and the number of users who were positive for SARS coronavirus- CoV-2 amounted to 76.

The Japanese authorities consider that 60 percent of the population should use the application for it to be effective. EFE-EPA

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