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Tokyo Urges Stay-Home Weekend as Tokyo, Osaka Cases Grow

Mannequins in Japanese traditional costumes and wearing protective face masks are displayed at a souvenir shop (REUTERS)Premium
Mannequins in Japanese traditional costumes and wearing protective face masks are displayed at a souvenir shop (REUTERS)

  • Governor of Tokyo Yuriko Koike told the city populace to stay at home as country observes long weekend earlier marked for the commencement of now postponed Olympics
  • As hospitals get overwhelmed by positive cases, this will be crucial to contain the spread of infection, Koike said

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike told residents to avoid unnecessary trips outdoors as much as possible during a forthcoming four-day weekend as the total number of coronavirus cases in the city topped 10,000.

Japan’s capital had another 238 cases on Wednesday, as the country heads into a long weekend that was originally scheduled to celebrate the start of the now-postponed Tokyo Olympic Games.

“This long weekend is going to be critical in preventing further spread of the virus," Koike said in a briefing Wednesday.

Hospitalizations in Tokyo have jumped almost five-fold over the past month, though authorities have stressed the medical system is not under stress. Just 14 of those hospitalized are listed as serious cases, in an ICU or on a ventilator, and the city has had only two deaths in the past month. The city had over 3,800 cases so far this month, more than the previous peak in April when the city entered its state of emergency.

Tokyo residents may have a feeling of deja vu as Koike also urged people to stay indoors back in March, when cases began to creep up. A series of steps then followed toward declaring the state of emergency, which was lifted on May 25. Authorities have repeatedly insisted that the current situation does not require such steps.

“There’s no change to the direction to carefully re-open the economy," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters Wednesday morning. “At the same time we will take steps to prevent the spread of infection and keep serious cases low."

Tokyo and the national government have disagreed on the severity of the current outbreak, with the two unable to reach agreement on whether Tokyo residents should be asked to avoid traveling to other regions. Wednesday marks the beginning of a nationwide tourism campaign aimed at promoting rural travel, from which Tokyo was excluded at the last minute.

Japan Travel Campaign Delivers Double Whammy to Tokyo Residents

However infections have continued to grow in regions beyond the capital. Osaka, the country’s third-largest prefecture by population, recorded around 120 cases, the most in a single day. Unlike Tokyo, Osaka had earlier recorded almost a month where daily cases were close to zero. Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura, who had won widespread praise for his management of the first outbreak, emphasized the need for people to avoid situations that would spread the contagion.

“The outbreak is spreading beyond young people, and we need to ensure the infection doesn’t spread to older generations," Yoshimura said. “Just looking at the numbers this is higher than the first wave."

The four-day weekend which begins Thursday was intended to celebrate the start of the Tokyo Olympics, which had been set to take place this Friday. Japan and the International Olympic Committee agreed in March to postpone the games by a year.

Speaking after the Osaka numbers were announced, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said there were no plans for Osaka to be excluded from the tourism campaign.

“What a shambles," heavyweight opposition politician Ichiro Ozawa said on Twitter of the reports that Koike would urge people to stay home.

“The national and local governments can’t even do the bare minimum of cooperation. The whole thing is a contradiction," he wrote. “On the one hand they’re encouraging national travel, on the other they’re making requests, with no compensation, close to the state of emergency."

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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