Tokyo’s daily infection numbers expected to stay around 6,000 in April

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
People cross an intersection in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, on Feb. 2.

New cases of coronavirus infection are expected to remain at about 6,000 a day in Tokyo after the March 21 expiration of quasi-emergency measures, according to a research team at the Nagoya Institute of Technology.

The team is also projecting that the daily number of seriously ill COVID-19 patients will fall to less than 20, as more and more people are receiving booster shots. However, if the flow of people increases, new cases in Tokyo could again exceed 10,000 per day.

Using artificial intelligence, the team predicted that new cases in the capital would drop to a weekly average of about 6,000 daily in late March, down from the current level of about 8,000. However, the figure is expected to level off in April.

If foot traffic increases to the same level as during the most recent year-end and New Year holidays, which was before the sixth wave of infections started, Tokyo could see a resurgence in early April, with daily tally reaching nearly 14,000 in the middle of the month.

In contrast, the daily number of COVID-19 patients who develop serious symptoms is expected to decrease to less than 20 by mid-April and stay at that level, regardless of people’s movements. This is believed to stem from progress in administering booster vaccinations to the elderly, who are more likely to become seriously ill.

“Even if there are fewer serious cases, the burden on medical institutions will increase if the number of new cases rises,” said Akimasa Hirata, a Nagoya Institute of Technology professor and a member of the research team. “Measures should continue to be implemented, including entry limits at restaurants, as people become more active around this time of the year on occasions such as graduation ceremonies and spring vacation.”

The university’s analysis did not take into account the possibility of the omicron variant being replaced by BA2, a more contagious subvariant of omicron.

The National Institute of Infectious Diseases has estimated that the BA2 subvariant will account for 70% of infections in early April.

If the subvariant becomes dominant, “infections could increase, as well as the number of hospitalized people,” said Takaji Wakita, director general of the institute and the chair of an advisory panel to the Health, Labor, and Welfare Ministry.