Photo/Illutration Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike urges Tokyo residents to minimize contact with other people during the New Year’s holidays, at an emergency news conference on Dec. 30. (Chiaki Ogiwara)

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike pleaded with Tokyo residents to stay home as much as possible to contain the novel coronavirus during the holiday season, calling an emergency news conference Dec. 30 to air her fears.

“We need to stem the spread of infections during year-end and New Year’s holidays, otherwise we will have no choice but to ask the central government to issue a state of emergency,” she said. “What Tokyo residents do during the holiday period will determine the infection trajectory.”

The governor’s news conference came as the capital reported 944 new cases that day, its second highest number for a single day to date. The seven-day average as of Dec. 29 was 787, another record.

“It would not be surprising to see an explosive growth in new cases in the coming weeks,” she said in reference to growing new cases. “We are at a critical juncture over the holidays whether we can slow the infections or not.”

Koike also said that Tokyo needs to pay the utmost caution over the more transmissible variants of the coronavirus found in Britain and South Africa, and be prepared for the possibility it will spread.

The governor said a task force set up at the Tokyo Center for Infectious Disease Control and Prevention, a new entity founded in October, is conducting gene analysis of a mutated coronavirus that was detected in Tokyo.