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Tokyo to boost capacity of COVID-19 testing to over 60,000 per day

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike speaks at a press conference at the metropolitan government headquarters on Oct. 30, 2020, about plans to increase the capacity of novel coronavirus testing in Tokyo to about 65,000 per day by early December. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The capacity of novel coronavirus testing in Tokyo will be increased to about 65,000 per day by early December, Gov. Yuriko Koike said Friday.

    "We will make sure that necessary tests can be conducted swiftly," Koike told a press conference, referring to the plan that is part of preparations for the twin-threat of the COVID-19 illness caused by the novel coronavirus and seasonal influenza.

    The increased capacity was calculated based on past data, with the metropolitan government estimating that there will be around 52,000 suspected flu patients with fever and about 13,000 suspected COVID-19 patients per day.

    The capacity of coronavirus testing in Tokyo has been increased to about 25,000 per day from about 10,000 as of Oct.1.

    The metropolitan government assumes the capital can conduct 46,000 COVID-19 tests per day by increasing the number of medical staff and working hours.

    It believes the remaining cases will be covered by antibody tests using simple kits.

    Suspected flu patients will first take flu tests, which provide results sooner. If they test negative, coronavirus testing will then be conducted.

    As part of efforts to strengthen follow-up measures on those who test positive for the coronavirus, the metropolitan government plans to recruit about 100 nurses who will make arrangements for epidemiological surveys and examinations of people who have been in close contact with COVID-19 patients.

    Tokyo's coronavirus phone consultation service, which used to operate only at night and on holidays, became available 24 hours a day from Friday.

    On Friday, 204 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Tokyo, bringing the capital's cumulative total to 30,881, the most among Japan's 47 prefectures.

    The average daily number of new cases in Tokyo over the previous seven days has remained almost flat at below 200.

    As for the flu, so far this season, only four patients had been confirmed in the capital as of Sunday, significantly lower than at this same time last year, according to the metropolitan government.

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