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Infections keep dropping in Tokyo, but rate of decline slows

Feb 27. 2021
Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike
Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike
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By The Japan News/ANN

The number of people newly infected with the novel coronavirus continues to fall, but the pace of decline is slowing, keeping Tokyo from meeting its goal of reducing the weekly average number to 70% of the previous week.

The Tokyo metropolitan government is concerned that the state of emergency may not be able to be lifted on March 7 as scheduled.

The number of new COVID-19 patients in Tokyo reached a record 2,520 on Jan. 7, the day a state of emergency was declared, with the weekly average also hitting a record 1,861.1 four days later on Jan. 11. Since then, the number has been on a downward trend to reach an average of 279.7 over the week until Thursday, reaching the same level as in mid-November.

However, the pace of decline has slowed.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike announced on Feb. 2 that if each weekly average could be kept below 70% of the previous week, the number of patients per day would be less than 140 by early March. Tokyo had met this 70% goal steadily until mid-February, but the percentage rose to 76.3% on Feb. 18 and has remained around 80% and 90% since then. What is behind the increase is likely more people going out compared to when the state of emergency was declared.

The slowdown in the decreasing infection rate is a national trend. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry’s advisory body said Wednesday that the decline in the number of infections among young people seems to have bottomed out. The trend is noticeable in the Tokyo metropolitan area as an increasing number of patients have been reported in Chiba Prefecture over the past few days, and the panel is warning of a rebound.

The state of emergency will be lifted in the Kansai and Chukyo regions ahead of the Tokyo metropolitan area, and Tokyo is wary that this move could cause people to let down their guard. The metropolitan government will close parking lots for public parks and sports facilities from Saturday.

“We must avoid extending the state of emergency as that would have a huge impact, but it is necessary to thoroughly contain the number of infected people on time to realize the Tokyo Olympics,” a senior metropolitan government official said.

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