Tokyo Set for Large Number of Virus Cases Today, Koike Warns

(Bloomberg) — Tokyo is set to report a jump in coronavirus cases Wednesday after infection clusters were discovered in workplaces, Governor Yuriko Koike told reporters.
A “considerable” number of cases were found at one workplace, on top of seven people already confirmed infected, she said.
Yuriko Koike
Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg
“I am prepared for a considerably large number today,” Koike said, without providing an exact figure. The figure is usually distributed through the local media in the early afternoon. Daily cases in the city have moved in a range of around 20 to 40 for much of the past week, with infections not exceeding 50 since early May, when the city was still under a state of emergency.
A seven-day average of 50 cases a day was one of the conditions that could lead to a reimposition of restrictions on businesses in a series of criteria Koike laid out in May. The criteria themselves are vague, however, and also include the number of cases where the path can’t be traced, as well as the week-on-week increase, among other indicators.
Tokyo currently has 225 coronavirus patients in hospital, though only 20 of these are listed as serious. At the peak in early May, more than 3,000 patients were hospitalized or otherwise isolated in dedicated facilities.
Tokyo shares fell after Koike spoke, with the Topix losing as much as 0.6%.
In her brief remarks, Koike highlighted the need to adjust workplace environments to contain the spread of the pandemic. She noted that while restaurants had adapted by placing barriers between tables, workplaces had yet to change despite staff who had been working remotely returning to the office, with concerns over workers’ productivity while wearing masks.
“This incident is showing us that workplaces can also become clusters,” Koike said. “We want people to think again about the new normal of offices and workspaces.”
Traffic at major stations in the capital has been slowly returning to normal since the state of emergency was lifted in late May as workers began to return to the office. The latest data show footfall at Shinjuku station down around 40% compared to January, while at Tokyo station it is down around 47%.
A brief spike in cases shortly after the lifting of the emergency led Koike to issue an alert to residents over the spread of the virus, but all restrictions on businesses in the capital were lifted as of June 19, and authorities have been encouraging residents to resume travel to other regions.
More than 10 people have also been found due to mass testing in Shinjuku, Koike said. The city has been increasing testing in the nighttime entertainment areas in that region after many cases found since the lifting of the state of emergency came from the Kabukicho red light district.
(Updates throughout)
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