YOKOHAMA, Japan — Japan announced 63 new confirmed cases of the new coronavirus on Sunday, its highest daily rise since the outbreak began, even as people began venturing back outside on a sunny day.
Health Ministry data compiled by public broadcaster NHK showed the total number of cases reached 773 on Saturday, not including 696 people who contracted the virus on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
One more person died, bringing the death toll to 22 from Japan’s domestic caseload and seven from the cruise ship, while a total 46 people remain in serious condition, NHK reported.
On Friday, Japan’s parliament passed a law giving government the power to declare a state of emergency in response to the epidemic, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Saturday there was no immediate need to take such a step.
“I intend to be very cautious in reaching a decision on what constitutes an emergency,” he said, although he added the situation was changing “by the minute.”
Although the number of infected people is still increasing, he said Japan had avoided a sudden rise as some other countries have experienced.
Japan’s government has been expanding its capacity to test people for the virus after intense criticism early on in the epidemic over a shortage of tests.
It now says it can test over 6,000 people a day, but is still carrying out fewer than 1,500 tests a day on average. In total it has tested over 25,000 people.
With the sun shining on Sunday, people were back outside, and the Motomachi shopping street in Yokohama, just south of Tokyo, was busy.