Japan recorded 503 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, its biggest daily increase since the start of the pandemic, as a state of emergency took effect but commuters still crowded some trains into Tokyo despite government calls to stay at home. The jump in new COVID-19 cases, including 144 in the capital, underscored the struggle of Japanese authorities to contain the outbreak without imposing a sweeping, mandatory lockdown on the population as most countries overseas have done. A day after the state of emergency was proclaimed, some Tokyo trains were still full of commuters, some voicing confusion over how they were now expected to restrict their movements to stem transmissions of the virus. Abe’s government did not provide detailed train usage data for the first day of the state of emergency, but said use of the Yamanote line, one of the busiest train lines that circles Tokyo, was down 40 percent on weekdays in recent weeks. The state of emergency, though stopping short of lockdown measures seen in some other Asian and most Western countries, will add to pains inflicted on the world’s third-largest economy from supply chain disruptions and travel bans.
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