A group of health experts have warned that although Japan has witnessed a down trajectory in the number of new Covid-19 cases, the country could still see a resurgence of the virus.
On Thursday, Japan reported 474 new cases, taking the cumulative total to 80,592, Xinhua news agency.
Cases in the seven days through September 22 totalled to 3,287, dropping from 3,731 recorded in the previous week.
The experts on Thursday pointed out that the reproduction number in Japan (R0 or R-number), also known as the R value, which measures the average number of people that one infected person will pass on a virus to, has risen to one.
They said that infections had shown a resurgence since the beginning of September in a number of prefectures, including Miyagi, Gunma and Chiba.
The group added that in Kyoto and Osaka, rising cases were indicative of a resurgence of the virus.
As for Tokyo, the experts said the declining trend of new cases had “bottomed out”.
The health experts are waiting to determine whether Japan’s four-day weekend recently, which saw increased travel across prefectures and more group-oriented recreation, such as dining out, may have affected the increase in cases.
They noted that while the number of patients requiring hospitalization and designated as “severely ill” has been declining since late last month, the pace of decline has been markedly slow.
“We need to keep an eye on when the impact of the movement of people during the holidays will come out,” Takaji Wakita, director general of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases who heads the advisory group for the health ministry, was quoted as saying.
Of the new cases Thursday, the Tokyo metropolitan government reported 195 new cases with 39 of them comprising employees from a food processing plant in the city’s Edogawa Ward, where a cluster has been confirmed.
Tokyo’s cumulative total, the highest among Japan’s 47 prefectures, reached 24,648, the city reported Thursday.
Nationwide, outbreaks have also been reported at construction sites, food processing factories and barbecue parks, officials have said.
Osaka Prefecture, Japan’s second hardest-hit region by the virus, confirmed 66 new cases Thursday, bringing its total caseload to 10,271 infections.
Tokyo’s neighboring prefecture of Kanagawa, meanwhile, confirmed 58 new infections, to total 6,508 cases.
Japan’s death toll from the virus stands at a total of 1,550 people.