TOKYO, July 21 (Reuters) – New coronavirus cases in Japan’s capital hit a record on Thursday, surging past 30,000 for the first time since the pandemic began, spurring officials to call for more vigilance.
Tokyo’s 31,878 new infections far outstripped a previous high in February, and many other regions also reported highs. Thursday’s national tally of 186,229 new infections was a record.
Despite few serious cases and deaths, officials warned hospitals were starting to feel the pressure from rising numbers.
“We need to keep a close eye on the infection situation, including the issue of access to medical services, with the highest vigilance,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a regular news conference.
New COVID-19 infections nationwide were at their highest ever, he added.
Despite the surge, officials, including Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, have not called for new coronavirus curbs. Nearly all Japanese still wear masks indoors, and many use them outside as well, while most stores require them.
Tokyo residents said the surge was worrying.
“I think it’s really shocking that it’s more than 30,000,” said Ai Okamura, a 30-year-old office worker. “Because I live with my grandmother, it makes me feel much more cautious.”
Others said they felt people had relaxed their vigilance in recent months as infections fell.
“Maybe since spring, everyone has calmed down and gone back to normal,” said systems engineer Shimichi Koyama, aged 55.
“So it was predictable to a certain extent,” he said, referring to the new surge.
(Reporting by Elaine Lies, Kiyoshi Takenaka and Tom Bateman; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Clarence Fernandez)