TOKYO (AP) – Daily coronavirus cases in Japan topped 3,000 for the first time as the government delays tougher measures for fear of harming the economy ahead of the holiday season.
The 3,030 new cases, including 621 in Tokyo, brought Japan’s national total to 177,287 with 2,562 deaths, the health ministry said on Sunday.
Experts say severe cases are on the rise across the country, weighing down hospitals and affecting the daily medical treatment of other patients. They urged authorities to take measures such as suspending travel outside the city and requesting early closings of stores.
Recent media polls show support ratings for Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s government have fallen by around 20 points, down from around 70% in his first three months in office amid public discontent with his management of the coronavirus.
Japan declared a non-binding state of emergency in the spring and survived previous spikes in infection without lockdown. Experts say the continued resurgence of the cold, dry season would be a bigger challenge.
In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:
– South Korea has set another record for its daily coronavirus total of 1,030, as authorities struggle to suppress the spread of the virus. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said on Sunday that the additional cases, including two deaths, had brought the national case count to 42,766 with 580 deaths. About 80% of the new cases were discovered in the densely populated Seoul area, where authorities have closed nightclubs and other high-risk places, banned late-night meals and taken other measures to slow the spread. . But these measures had little effect. Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun on Saturday said his government may have to enforce its social distancing rules at the highest level if the virus does not slow down. Such restrictions would ban an assembly of more than 10 people, close schools, theaters and department stores, and suspend professional sports leagues.
– Chinese authorities have locked down an area of more than 250,000 people after half a dozen cases of the coronavirus were confirmed near the Russian border in northeast Heilongjiang province. Checkpoints were set up in Dongning and Suifenhe, and people were told not to leave unless necessary. The bus service was suspended, schools closed and production interrupted in factories not meeting daily needs. Restaurants have been told to stop food service and residential communities have been told to control entry. Four cases have been confirmed since Thursday in Suifenhe and two in Dongning. China, where the coronavirus first appeared at the end of last year, has moved quickly to eradicate any recurrence of the virus. The National Health Commission reported 24 new cases nationwide, including four in Heilongjiang and another in southwestern Sichuan Province. The remaining 19 were imported from outside China.
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