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Japan's COVID-19 cases top 200,000 as rising infections show no signs of abating

(Xinhua)    10:41, December 22, 2020

TOKYO, Dec. 21 (Xinhua) -- Japan's cumulative COVID-19 cases topped the 200,000-mark on Monday, with surging cases around the country causing heightened concerns about the medical system's ability to cope under the increasing strain.

Japan confirmed 1,806 new cases on Monday, pushing the nationwide caseload up to 201,050, not including those related to a cruise ship quarantined near Tokyo earlier in the year.

Despite the recent surge in virus cases and the strain on the medical system, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Monday that there was no need to declare a national state of emergency, although further restrictions on bars and restaurants may be put in place.

But many experts were extremely concerned about the pace of the virus' spread, as it took less than two months for the figure to double to top the 200,000-mark, compared to the nine and a half months it took to reach the 100,000-mark from when the first case was diagnosed in January.

Meanwhile, Japan said the virus variant that is now prevalent in Britain and had lead to numerous countries banning flights from there, has not yet been detected here, although other countries have been affected by the fast-spreading strain of the virus.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told a press briefing that the health ministry is in close contact with the British government and the World Health Organization regarding the virus variant.

Kato also said that Japan had no plans to immediately tighten travel restrictions.

According to health officials in Britain, the new strain of the virus could be up to 70 percent more contagious, exacerbating its rapid spread, although as yet there is no evidence that it reduces the effectiveness of vaccines or is deadlier.

Japan's hard-hit capital of Tokyo, where about a quarter of the infections have occurred, reported 392 new cases on Monday, bringing its cumulative total to 51,838.

The western prefecture of Osaka confirmed 180 new cases to total 27,217 infections, while Tokyo's neighboring prefecture of Kanagawa reported 188 new cases, bringing its total to 17,038 infections.

Aichi Prefecture, meanwhile, reported 92 new cases, taking its cumulative total to 14,237, while Hokkaido Prefecture added 110 new infections to total 12,307.

The national death toll currently stands at 2,978, according to the latest statistics released Monday evening.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Wen Ying, Liang Jun)

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