TOKYO (AFP) – Japan’s daily coronavirus cases surpassed 3,000 for the first time as the government delayed tougher measures for fear of hurting the economy ahead of the holiday season.
Today, Sunday, the Ministry of Health said that 3,030 new cases of infection, including 621 in Tokyo, bring Japan’s national tally to 177,287 with 2562 deaths.
Experts say severe cases are on the rise across the country, putting an extra burden on hospitals and affecting the daily medical treatment of other patients. They urged authorities to take measures such as suspending trips outside the city and asking stores to close early.
Recent media surveys show that support ratings for Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s government have dropped by about 20 points from around 70% during his first three months in office amid public discontent over his handling of the coronavirus.
Japan issued a non-binding emergency in the spring and escaped the previous infection peak without lockdown. Experts say that the constant return in the dry and cold season will be an even greater challenge.
On other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:
– South Korea set a new record for its daily count of Corona virus with 1030, as the authorities struggle to suppress the spread of the virus. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said on Sunday that the additional cases, including two deaths, brought the number of national cases to 42,766 with 580 deaths. About 80% of the new cases are found in the densely populated Seoul area, as authorities have closed nightclubs and other high-risk places, banned late-night eating and took other steps to slow the spread of the disease. But such measures have shown little effect. Prime Minister Chung Se Kyun said Saturday that his government may have to impose the highest level of social distancing rules if the virus does not slow down. Such restrictions would ban gatherings of more than 10 people, close schools, theaters, and supermarkets and suspend professional sports leagues.
– The Chinese authorities have closed a district with more than 250,000 people after confirming six cases of coronavirus infection near the Russian border in the northeastern Heilongjiang Province. Checkpoints have been set up in Dongning and Suifenhe, and people have been told not to leave unless necessary. Bus service has been suspended, schools closed and production stopped in factories that do not manufacture daily necessities. Restaurants have been told to stop dining service and residential communities to control entry. Four cases have been confirmed since Thursday in Suifenhe and two in Dongning. China, where the Coronavirus first appeared late last year, has moved quickly to eliminate any recurrence of the virus. The National Health Commission has reported 24 new cases nationwide, including four in Heilongjiang and another in Sichuan Province in the southwest. The other nineteen were imported from outside China.
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