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Tokyo on Top Virus Alert as COVID Cases Continue to Surge

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike shows a banner reading 'Infection spread alert' during a news conference on the latest situation of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tokyo, Japan, July 15, 2020, in this photo taken by Kyodo.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike Wednesday issued the highest possible warning about the escalating spread of COVID-19 infections in the Japanese capital, requesting residents and business owners step up preventive measures, but not calling for any business closures.

Japanese public broadcaster NHK reports Tokyo confirmed 165 new COVID-19 infections Wednesday, up from 143 Tuesday and 119 Monday. For the four days through Sunday, the tally had exceeded 200.

At a news conference in Tokyo, Koike specifically urged restaurants, shops and nightclub operators to fulfill safety measures and urged customers to stay away from places that don't comply with guidelines.

She also asked Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government to revise the law to authorize local governors to penalize business owners who violate requested safety measures.

The number of serious cases is not rising rapidly but hospital beds are quickly filling up and more are needed.

The governor said she has requested hospitals secure 2,700 beds to accommodate moderately ill patients. She said, “In addition, due to the increasing number of asymptomatic, mildly ill patients in the younger generation, we will open two new accommodation medical facilities tomorrow.”

Koike appealed to residents to avoid non-essential out-of-town trips, and for the government to “think carefully” if it’s an appropriate timing to push Abe's unpopular tourism campaign.

However, she did not announce any business closures. Tokyo lifted its state of emergency and reopened businesses in late May, and has resisted calling for a reclosure.

Experts on a Tokyo COVID-19 task force said infections are no longer limited to younger generations linked to nightlife districts.

Tokyo has had 8,189 confirmed cases and 325 deaths.