TOKYO: Japanese experts have warned that Tokyo may experience a second wave of novel coronavirus infections given a recent increase in new cases.
The Tokyo metropolitan government reported more than 100 new infection cases for the second straight day on Friday.
“The number suddenly topped 100 after fluctuating slightly above 50 for some days, meaning that the pace of infection growth accelerated further,” said infection control specialist Satoshi Hori, professor at Juntendo University.
If the current pace continues, the situation will return to levels in mid-April, when the daily count reached around 200, and Tokyo will possibly see the second wave of epidemic, he said.
“The metropolitan government should consider asking residents to refrain from going out for nonessential purposes or visiting nightlife establishments with hospitality services,” Hori said.
Many recently confirmed cases were from entertainment districts including Kabukicho in Shinjuku Ward, but that is because employees at such establishments have agreed to take group virus testing, he said.
“Infections are likely to have spread in other entertainment districts in Tokyo, so group testing need to be conducted further to shed more light on the infection situation,” Hori added.
Toho University professor Kazuhiro Tateda, an expert on infectious disease, said the current situation is just like what he feared would happen.
Although the number of new cases decreased in Tokyo after the state of emergency from April to May, Tateda expected that the virus would not completely disappear, keeping COVID-19 a potential threat throughout.
Tateda said infections “are spreading in some places before we realize it,” given that untraceable cases make up about 40 pct of the recently reported infection cases.
“If the virus spreads among the elderly and the number of severely ill patients rises, the medical system capacity could reach its limit,” he warned.
Tateda called for preparations for a situation where infection cases remain elevated or increase further after Tokyo spent weeks without a stay-at-home request.
Virus hot spots have been identified to some extent, so authorities should take measures to contain the disease focusing heavily on such areas, he said.