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Tokyo Once Again Sets Daily Record for New COVID-19 Cases

People walk on pedestrian crossings, July 17, 2020, at Tokyo's Shibuya district
People walk on pedestrian crossings, July 17, 2020, at Tokyo's Shibuya district

Tokyo’s governor confirmed Friday the Japanese capital had 293 new daily cases, setting a record for new cases for the second straight day.

At a news briefing, Governor Yuriko Koike suggested the higher number of confirmed cases reflects more aggressive testing. More than 4,000 people a day are being tested, with a goal of 10,000.

The governor urged social distancing, regularly disinfecting hands and other measures to curb the outbreak. She has also requested medical facilities make additional beds available for the expected surge in patients.

While Japan never had a total lockdown, the government did declare an emergency and asked businesses to close and people to work from home beginning in April. That emergency was lifted in late May.

But since that time, cases have started to rise again in metropolitan areas, with Tokyo seeing an average of more than 200 cases a day for the past seven days. Plans have been announced to call a second emergency as concerns rise the city reopened too quickly.

Tokyo’s surge has prompted officials to exempt it from the “Go To Travel” campaign, which offers discounts for travel in the country to encourage tourism.

Japan has so far avoided the massive number of cases experienced in the hardest hit nations, with fewer than 24,000 and about 1,000 deaths.

Japan has been trying to keep economic activity going while avoiding the spread of the coronavirus, opening restaurants and theaters with limited seating and having store clerks work behind plastic shielding.