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Suga says Japan on ‘maximum alert’ over surging coronavirus cases


Japan is on “maximum alert” after reporting a record number of new coronavirus cases, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Thursday.

A day after the number of newly reported cases topped 2,000, Suga told reporters that he wants people to wear face masks when conversing even during a meal.

Japan logged a daily record of 2,203 cases on Wednesday, with Tokyo also reporting a fresh record high of 493 cases in what experts say could be the third wave of the pandemic in the country. Tokyo is expected to raise its alert to the highest level later Thursday.

Suga has once again instructed Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of the government’s coronavirus response, and health minister Norihisa Tamura to do their utmost to limit the spread of the virus.

“I feel a very strong sense of crisis,” Nishimura said at a news conference after a government review meeting on the pandemic Wednesday.

He stressed the need to strengthen coronavirus measures at dining establishments, which have been hot spots for the virus.

Toshio Nakagawa, head of the Japan Medical Association, asked the public to refrain from unnecessary travel, especially to and from regions experiencing a resurgence.

“Please do not get complacent about the coronavirus,” he said Wednesday at a separate news conference. “We can prevent it from spreading across the country through the combination of each of our actions.”

Nakagawa said that although there was no concrete evidence to indicate that the government’s Go To Travel subsidy campaign was responsible for the spike in cases, “there is no mistaking that it acted as a catalyst.”

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