Japan’s health authorities reported another 5,759 new cases of coronavirus across the country on Sunday. A record 972 people are in serious condition.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government says it confirmed 1,592 new cases. Tokyo and the three neighboring prefectures of Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama all reported their highest figures for a Sunday.
This was the first weekend since the state of emergency was extended from the Greater Tokyo area to cover 11 prefectures in total.
The latest analysis shows far more people were out and about in many places across Japan on Saturday than during the first state of emergency. Crowds were more than seven times larger in some spots.
Nishimura Yasutoshi, the minister in charge of the coronavirus response, said on an NHK program on Sunday that the government is urging people to stay at home. Companies are also being asked to reduce commuting by 70 percent.
Nishimura said, “I am asking everyone to pull together and comply with infection control measures so the state of emergency will not have to be prolonged.”
Nakagawa Toshio, the head of the Japan Medical Association says people should be on their guard as there has been another surge in the number of young patients.
Nakagawa said, “It’s becoming clear that younger people are also susceptible to the after-effects of the virus, such as damage to internal organs.”
Meanwhile, the health ministry has announced a plan to expand testing.
Antigen tests are simpler and faster than PCR tests. But they were also believed to be less accurate and were only given to people with symptoms.
Officials now say as long as there is sufficient virus present, there is no significant difference in the accuracy of the two types of tests.
Staff, patients and elderly residents will be given the antigen tests at medical institutions and care homes. PCR tests will be used to confirm any positive results.
Health ministry officials say regular mass testing at such facilities will detect carriers sooner and prevent cluster infections.