Japan's capital becomes centre of its coronavirus epidemic


  • World
  • Wednesday, 25 Mar 2020

FILE PHOTO: A man, wearing a protective mask following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), walks in Tokyo, Japan March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

TOKYO (Reuters) - The governor of the Japanese capital will on Wednesday ask residents to refrain from going outside for non-essential business at the weekend, public broadcaster NHK said, after the number of cases of coronavirus jumped in the city.

More than 40 new cases were reported in Tokyo on Wednesday, media said, its biggest one-day increase.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike was due to brief reporters later in the evening.

The city has become the centre of Japan's coronavirus epidemic, with 211 cases, more than any other region after increases this week.

It overtook the hard-hit northern island of Hokkaido island on Tuesday as the prefecture with the most infections, NHK reported.

The outbreak has infected 1,271 people in Japan as of Wednesday evening, with 44 deaths linked to the virus, NHK said. That excludes 712 cases and 10 deaths from a cruise ship moored near Tokyo last month.

The International Olympic Committee and Japanese government on Tuesday agreed to put back the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to 2021 over the outbreak.

Tokyo's new infections came after Koike warned that a lockdown of the capital was possible if it saw an explosive rise in cases.

Koike on Monday called on residents to exercise restraint to avoid a lockdown. She said the next three weeks were critical for whether Tokyo would see an "overshoot" - an explosive rise - in virus cases.

Japan's northern prefecture of Hokkaido ended a state of emergency over its outbreak of the coronavirus, which has seen 167 cases.

The outbreak has now infected more than 420,000 across 196 countries, according to a Reuters tally, with almost 19,000 deaths linked to the virus.

(Reporting by Daniel Leussink and Dave Dolan; writing by Linda Sieg; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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