Infections increasing in night spots, among youth

For the first time in two months, Tokyo reached triple digits in new coronavirus cases in a single day when it exceeded 100 on Thursday. The surge extended Friday, with the figure reaching 124. Particularly noticeable have been the spread of infections in nightspots and among young people.

The Tokyo metropolitan government remains confident that the medical system has enough capacity to handle the surge, but is becoming increasingly wary about the spread of the virus.

Centered on bustling areas

“We can’t rule out the possibility of a rapid increase in new cases from now. We need to exercise more vigilance,” Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said at a hastily called press conference Thursday evening, expressing a sense of urgency.

Recently in Tokyo, infections have increased especially among those involved in the night entertainment industry, including workers at host clubs and hostess bars and their customers.

Of those who tested positive for the virus over the seven days through Thursday, about 40% are related to “nightspots.” Of those, bustling areas such as Shinjuku and Ikebukuro stand out in particular. There have also been confirmed coronavirus cases at a maid cafe in the Akihabara district.

Another characteristic is that more and more young people in their 20s and 30s are contracting the virus. In April, these age groups accounted for 36% of all people infected, but in the week through Thursday, the percentage doubled to about 70%.

There are many cases of the virus spreading at gatherings or parties in izakaya Japanese pubs. “Young people often show no symptoms, and they participate in a wide range of activities,” a senior metropolitan government official said. “There is the fear that they are infecting others without knowing it.”

Situation ‘different’ from April

Meanwhile, the current situation is different from that in April, when the medical system was in danger of collapse. As of Thursday, 296 patients were hospitalized with the coronavirus in Tokyo, about 20% of the peak number of 1,413 recorded on May 12. Of the current hospitalizations, nine are regarded to be in critical condition as of Thursday, less than 10% of the peak of 105 at the end of April.

The Tokyo metropolitan government has secured 1,000 beds, and a metropolitan government official said, “We can increase the number of beds to 3,000 in a week.”

Source: LMT Online