Japan's daily new virus case count tops 1,000 for first time

Passersby wearing protective face masks are seen at Takeshita Street, a popular sightseeing spot amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Tokyo, Japan July 29, 2020. (REUTERS Photo)

confirmed a daily record of 1,259 new infections on Wednesday, exceeding 1,000 for the first time, as the country faces a new wave of cases.

The figure was far larger than the previous single-day record of 982 infections set on Tuesday.

Tokyo reported 250 cases, surpassing 200 for the second day in a row, compared with just 8 cases on May 25, when a state of emergency ended in the Olympic host city.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike raised its coronavirus alert to the highest level in mid-July, urging 14 million residents to refrain from non-urgent and non-essential outings to another prefecture.

On Wednesday, six prefectures, including Osaka and Aichi, posted the highest daily tally, according to Kyodo News. Osaka confirmed 221 new cases and Aichi reported 167 new infections.

Despite the resurgence of the virus, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government has continued a controversial travel promotion campaign launched last week to reinvigorate the tourism industry and local economies hit hard by the pandemic.

However, the government abruptly decided to exclude Tokyo from the campaign following a rapid rise in case numbers there.

Opposition lawmakers said the government's "Go To Travel" campaign had brought "trouble" to the country.

Up until mid-June, the government had urged the public not to travel across prefecture borders.

Wednesday's figure brought the total number of coronavirus cases to 34,155, including 712 cases reported on a cruise ship quarantined near Tokyo in February. The country has so far recorded 1,019 deaths, according to Kyodo.

Japan declared a state of emergency for seven prefectures in early April. Nine days later, the government expanded the measure to the whole country, calling on the public to stay at home. It ended in most of the country in mid-May.

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