A man wearing a protective mask walks past Christmas decorations in a business district amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Tokyo, Japan, Dec 14 , 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

TOKYO – The Japanese government on Monday may exclude Tokyo and Nagoya as destinations from its subsidized “Go To Travel” campaign owing to an escalation in COVID-19 cases in both cities.

Officials said that following a meeting on the coronavirus response later in the day, the government is expected to make a decision as to whether the two cities will be excluded from the state-backed travel program.

The possible move comes as COVID-19 patients designated as being in a “serious condition” hit a record high of 583 in Japan on Sunday, official figures showed, with the number of new COVID-19 cases across the country totaling 2,334, compared to a record 3,041 new infections reported on Saturday.

Some medical officials now believe Japan is in the grip of a “third wave” of new infections.

Tokyo, the hardest hit by the virus among Japan’s 47 prefectures, confirmed 480 new coronavirus infections on Sunday. This was down from a record 621 cases reported on Saturday, but marked the highest number of new daily infections for a Sunday, official figures showed.

Nagoya, meanwhile, confirmed 93 new COVID-19 cases, with Aichi Prefecture to which it belongs reporting 181 new cases of the virus.

In a News conference on Monday, Aichi Governor Hideaki Omura said that the central government had informed him about the possibility Nagoya may be removed from the travel program to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The central government has proposed that Tokyo be excluded from “Go To Travel” trips until Dec 25. The Tokyo metropolitan government, for its part, has gone a step further and is looking to extend the suspension through Jan 11 to curb the spread of the virus.

This would be in twine with the central government’s proposal that the capital city of 14 million also extend its restrictions on establishments that serve alcohol, which currently have been requested to close at 10:00 pm until Thursday, until after the New year period in January.