• STAFF REPORT, KYODO, Jiji

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The Tokyo Metropolitan Government confirmed 389 coronavirus infections Friday, posting the highest figure since last Saturday, while Okinawa tallied over 100 new infections.

The figure, which is nearly double that of Thursday, pushed the cumulative tally in the capital to 17,069, with 338 deaths. The high number of cases is believed to reflect a rise in the number of people who were tested after the three-day holiday through Monday.

The nationwide tally topped 54,500, up some 1,350 from Thursday.

Of Friday's tally in Tokyo, cases involving people in their 20s and 30s accounted for about 58 percent, the metropolitan government said, adding roughly 62 percent had unknown transmission routes.

The metropolitan government has raised its alert for the pandemic to the highest of four levels, meaning infections are spreading, and also asked Tokyoites to refrain from traveling or returning to their hometowns during the Bon summer holidays. Karaoke venues and drinking establishments that serve alcohol are also being asked to close by 10 p.m. until the end of this month.

The daily infection figure has stayed below 400 during the Bon holidays, after hitting a record 472 cases on Aug. 1.

Elsewhere in Japan, Okinawa confirmed more than 100 cases Friday and the number is set to be the second-highest after a record 159 cases were logged on Sunday, local reports said. Osaka Prefecture reported 192 new cases, while Kanagawa and Fukuoaka prefectures both saw figures top 100.

The prefecture extended its declaration of a state of emergency by two weeks to Aug. 29 and raised its four-stage alert to the highest level on Thursday.

Across Japan, the total number of infected people who have died climbed to 1,098, with a total of eight new deaths reported in Osaka and other prefectures.

At a news conference, economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who is in charge of the government's response to the epidemic, expressed concern about the rising number of severely ill COVID-19 patients.

"There were 211 severely ill patients (as of Thursday), compared with around 100 about 10 days ago," Nishimura said. "We have to consider the possibility of a rapid increase" in severely ill patients.

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