TOKYO – Japan’s coronavirus cases have topped 100,000, nine months after the first case was found in mid-January, the health ministry said Friday.
The country confirmed 808 new cases on Thursday, bringing the cumulative COVID-19 cases to 100,334, including 712 people who were on a cruise ship that was docked off a Japanese port earlier this year.
About one-third of the cases come from Tokyo, where 221 cases were confirmed Thursday, bringing the prefectural total to 30,677, including 453 deaths. Nationwide, Japan has more than 1,700 deaths.
Experts say Japan has so far managed to avoid “explosive” infections as in Europe and the U.S. without enforcing lockdowns, most likely thanks to the common use of face masks and disinfectant, as well as other common preventive measures including social distancing.
Japan had a nationwide state of emergency in April and May, and experienced a less serious second wave in August, but has since been seeing a slight uptrend in new cases in northern prefectures, setting off concerns of a surge in the winter.
Experts have urged extra caution at dining and drinking parties and workplaces. According to health ministry data, nearly half of the new patients were in their 20s and 30s.
Japan’s northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido this week raised its warning level after finding major clusters in urban entertainment districts.
Experts on Thursday also urged caution in Tokyo, where the daily count has fluctuated between the 100s and 200s.