Japan reports 508 new COVID-19 cases, mulls easing spectator cap at large events

Source: Xinhua| 2020-09-09 22:38:32|Editor: huaxia

TOKYO, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- Japan reported 508 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the nation's cumulative total to 73,337 infections, not including those related to a cruise ship quarantined near Tokyo earlier in the year.

Osaka Prefecture, in western Japan, the second hardest-hit region by the virus after Tokyo confirmed 63 new cases, bringing its total tally to 9,232 cases.

Tokyo's neighboring prefecture of Kanagawa, meanwhile, reported 106 new infections to total 5,628 cases.

Tokyo, for its added 149 new daily COVID-19 infections on Wednesday, marked the second straight day that cases have topped 100.

According to the metropolitan government's latest figures, infections in the capital of 14 million, however, have remained below the 200-mark for a sixth straight day.

Tokyo's cumulative total has now reached 22,168 COVID-19 cases, the metropolitan government said.

As for the number of those hospitalized due to COVID-19 and designated "severely ill", the latest figures showed Wednesday that cases had risen by three from the previous day to total 24 people.

Earlier this week, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said that three weeks had passed since the beginning of the Bon holiday period in Japan and she believes the number of COVID-19 cases in the capital are showing a declining trend.

Koike went on to say, however, that despite experts also concurring that infections are decreasing, the pace of the decline remains slow and as such caution is still necessary.

She called for the continued cooperation from residents and businesses in fighting the virus and urged all to thoroughly implement infection control measures.

Tokyo's alert level remains at the highest on its four-tier scale meaning "infections are spreading," although sources close to the matter said late Wednesday evening the alert level may be lowered by one notch next week along with other virus-linked easing measures.

Officials on Wednesday, meanwhile, said that Japan is mulling allowing up to 20,000 spectators to attend sports, concerts and other events, from the current limit of 5,000, as COVID-19 cases are believed to be on the decline.

"We will take into account their request and consider it," Yasutoshi Nishimura, economic revitalization minister in charge of coronavirus response, told a press conference, with reference to requests being made from professional soccer and baseball leagues in Japan for the spectator cap to be raised.

Nishimura inferred that the new rule with the increased cap on the number of spectators may be put in place in time for a four-day weekend in Japan starting Sept. 19.

At a meeting slated to convene Friday, easing the spectator limit will be discussed between the government and medical experts.

The government, however, will likely maintain its rule of capping spectators at 50 percent of a venue's capacity, although may ease rules for classical music concerts or kabuki performances that do not allow people to raise their voices, sources close to the matter said Wednesday. Enditem