TOKYO (Reuters) – Tokyo health officials appealed on Tuesday for more than 800 theatregoers to get tested for the novel coronavirus after a production starring Japanese boy-band members was found to be the source of at least 20 cases.
As the number of virus infections continues to rise in Japan’s capital city, the Tokyo government said it was focussing on a 190-seat theatre in the Shinjuku entertainment district, where infections have also been traced to cabaret clubs.
Japan is pushing ahead with opening up parts of the country, with plans to reopen a runway at one of the country’s biggest airports, even as infections persist in major cities, rural areas and U.S. military bases.
The latest cluster has been traced to Theatre Moliere, near Tokyo’s red-light district, which staged a play for six days starring mainly up-and-coming boy-band members earlier this month.
The Tokyo government said it learned of the first infection among a cast member on July 6, after which testing found 20 related cases by late Monday. It called on all audience members who attended the performance to get tested.
The producers of the play, “Werewolf”, released a statement on Monday also asking audience members to seek health advice.
“Following a large number of infections seen among our spectators, we have been informed that all 800 spectators who came to see the performance have been identified as high-risk contacts,” Rise Communications said on its website.
As Tokyo struggles to contain virus infections, travel routes to and from the city continue to open up. Narita International Airport, one of the two main airports serving the capital, is planning to re-open its second runway ahead of a public holiday next week, public broadcaster NHK reported.
Tokyo reported 119 new cases of coronavirus infections on Monday following a four-day run when the daily tally exceeded 200. Overall, Japan has reported around 23,000 infections, and nearly 1,000 related deaths.
(Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Stephen Coates)