TOKYO (Reuters) – Tokyo is preparing to raise its coronavirus alert level to the highest of four levels as the number of positive cases in the Japanese capital creeps up, the Nikkei business daily reported on Wednesday.
As part of the move, the metropolitan government is considering asking some businesses to shorten their hours again, the paper said, citing multiple unnamed sources. The announcement will be made on Thursday, the Nikkei said.
Tokyo authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Tokyo had lowered the alert level to the second-highest rank on Sept. 10 after the daily number of infections had come down from a summer peak of 400-plus cases. Since the beginning of this month, however, daily infections have trended upward, reaching a three-month high of 393 cases last week.
The highest alert level indicates that “infections are spreading”, versus the less serious “infections appear to be spreading”.
Still, Japan is far from the critical number of infections and deaths seen in many Western countries, with about 121,000 positive cases and 1,920 deaths reported so far.
Testing is also much lower, at a few thousand a day for Tokyo, a city with a population of 14 million.
The Nikkei said the capital would keep its alert level for medical preparedness at the second-highest, indicating a need to boost capacity but that conditions were not yet tight. According to the city’s website, 1,281 patients are currently hospitalised with COVID-19, against capacity of 2,640 beds.
(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Sandra Maler and Lincoln Feast.)