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COVID-19 infections in Tokyo may soon surge again as downtown areas getting crowded

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike explains about the coronavirus infection situation in Tokyo after a monitoring meeting at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government headquarters on June 10, 2021. (Mainichi/Hitomi Saikawa)

TOKYO -- Coronavirus infections in the Japanese capital may quickly surge once again as the number of people turning out in major downtown areas has been increasing over four consecutive weeks since the end of "Golden Week" holidays, experts say.

    The rise in the number of people in downtown areas was reported in a June 10 monitoring meeting of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, where the state of infections in the capital was analyzed. Experts indicated that there is a high possibility that the number of new infections will bottom out sometime soon and shift to a resurgence.

    According to the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Science, the weekly number of people in seven major downtown areas in Tokyo between May 30 and June 5 was up 26% during the daytime (from noon to 6 p.m.) and up 32% during the nighttime (from 6 p.m. to midnight) compared to during the Golden Week holiday period between May 2 and 8.

    The average daily number of new cases in the capital in the most recent week was 389.4 as of June 9 -- about 80% of the figure in the previous week. This downward trend is seen as a result of restricting the flow of people during the Golden Week holidays. But as the number of people going out is approaching levels seen before April 25, the day the state of emergency was declared, apparently it is feared that the infection situation may see a rebound in the future.

    "As mask usage rates drop during the night, the risk of an infection resurgence will become very high if the de facto population during that time period increases," Atsushi Nishida, director at the institute's Research Center for Social Science & Medicine, pointed out. "If the flow of people increases at this pace, it is possible that the effective reproduction number will rise about two weeks later and the new infection downward trend will stop, possibly bottoming out."

    Meanwhile, regarding Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's policy of aiming to complete vaccinations of all people who desired so, including those under the age of 65, by October or November, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike stated, "We would like to share that target." Citing large-scale inoculations that began at the site of the former Tsukiji market in the capital's Chuo Ward on June 8, Koike indicated her intention to accelerate vaccinations, saying, "While we accumulate knowhow, we want to proceed with a sense of speed."

    (Japanese original by Hitomi Saikawa, Tokyo City News Department)

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