April 27, 2020 / 11:32 AM / a month ago

Tokyo reports fewest new coronavirus cases in 4 weeks, calls for vigilance

A man wearing a protective face mask walks in an empty underpass during Golden Week, a week-long holiday in Japan, under a nationwide state of emergency, near Tokyo Station in Tokyo, Japan April 27, 2020, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues. REUTERS/Issei Kato

TOKYO (Reuters) - Metropolitan Tokyo confirmed 39 more cases of coronavirus infection on Monday, Governor Yuriko Koike said, the fewest since March 30 and the second consecutive day of new cases below triple digits.

But Koike stressed at a video conference that the situation offered no grounds for optimism, saying that the number was usually low on Mondays as fewer test samples are brought in. “We can’t let our guard down,” she said.

Hokkaido University professor Hiroshi Nishiura, one of the infectious disease experts guiding the government’s response to the outbreak, told the conference the pace of decline had been slow.

Japan declared a state of emergency in Tokyo, the country’s coronavirus epicentre, and six other areas on April 7 that it later extended nationwide to fight a widening outbreak.

The government will decide during its Golden Week holiday between April 29 and May 6 whether to extend the month-long state of emergency, government and ruling party sources told Reuters last week.

Japan as a whole has 13,504 confirmed cases and 377 deaths, public broadcaster NHK said. In Tokyo, 3,947 cases in total have been confirmed.

As schools remain closed, Hirofumi Yoshimura, governor of the western Japan prefecture of Osaka, said the government should consider beginning the Japanese school year in September instead of April.

Reporting by Chris Gallagher and Makiko Yamazaki; Additional reporting by Yoshifumi Takemoto; Editing by Giles Elgood

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