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After lull, southwest Japan city sees 46 new COVID-19 cases in 6 days

People with masks are seen commuting to work and school at JR Kokura Station in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture, on the morning of May 29, 2020. (Mainichi/Tomohisa Yazu)

KITAKYUSHU, Fukuoka -- After going for 23 days without a new coronavirus infection, this southwest Japan city has seen a resurgence of cases, with 21 new infections confirmed on May 28 alone -- the largest figure recorded in Japan that day.

In comparison, Tokyo registered 15 new cases the same day.

Over six days from May 23, the city of Kitakyushu in Fukuoka Prefecture reported a total of 43 new coronavirus infections. Of those, infection routes for 21 people are unknown. The municipal government had been implementing measures to prevent a "second wave" of infections, but clusters of infections were reported at two medical institutions in the city. The local government is set to investigate and analyze these clusters in collaboration with a Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry team.

According to the Kitakyushu Municipal Government, of the 21 people reported to have been infected with the novel coronavirus on May 28, 17 had had close contact with COVID-19 patients, but infection routes for the remaining four could not be determined. Among the 21 newly reported cases were the infections of an elementary school girl and a junior high school boy. Two people in their 70s and a person in their 80s were also infected.

Nine of the 21 people confirmed infected on May 28 are staffers at Moji Medical Center in Moji Ward, the northern tip of the city. The municipal government has recognized that the center is the site of a cluster of infections, while announcing another cluster at Kitakyushu General Hospital in Kokurakita Ward, after checking with those who had close contact with infected people.

After reporting no new cases for 23 days from April 30, three new infections were confirmed on May 23, followed by another three cases on May 24, six on the 25th, two on the 26th, eight on the 27th and 21 on the 28th.

Hideki Nagatomi, head of the city's health and welfare bureau, held a news conference on the night of May 28 and touched on the fact that clusters had occurred at two different places, saying, "We're on the edge of seeing a second wave (of infections) and are concerned about the situation going forward. We can only say that we are facing a very tough situation."

(Japanese original by Takuya Inoue, Kyushu News Department)

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