Japan surpasses 100,000 coronavirus cases

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Japan's coronavirus cases have topped 100,000, nine months after the first case was found in mid-January, the health ministry says.

The country confirmed 808 new cases on Thursday, bringing the cumulative COVID-19 cases to 100,334, including 712 people who were on a cruise ship that was docked off a Japanese port earlier this year.

About one-third of the cases come from Tokyo, where 221 cases were confirmed Thursday, bringing a prefectural total to 30,677, with 453 deaths.

Nationwide, Japan has more than 1700 deaths.

Experts say Japan has so far managed to avoid explosive infections as in Europe and the US without enforcing lockdowns, most likely thanks to the common use of face masks and disinfectant, as well as other common preventive measures including social distancing.

Japan had a nationwide state of emergency in April and May, and experienced a less serious second wave in August, but has since been seeing a slight uptrend in new cases in northern Japanese prefectures, setting off concerns of a surge in the winter.

Experts have urged extra caution at dining and drinking parties and workplaces. According to health ministry data, nearly half of the new cases were in their 20s and 30s.

Japan's northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido this week raised an warning level after finding major clusters in urban entertainment districts.

Experts on Thursday also urged caution in Tokyo where daily count has fluctuated between 100s and 200s.