• STAFF REPORT, KYODO

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The Tokyo Metropolitan Government reported 258 new cases of the novel coronavirus Friday, dipping below 300, as the government continued to urge the people to remain on alert a day after a leading expert on the issue said the infections may have hit a peak.

The figure, which was down from a five-day high of 339 cases Thursday, pushed the cumulative tally in the capital to 18,865, with 348 deaths. The number of seriously ill patients fell by three to 33, the metropolitan government said in a statement. The latest data was based on 5,407 tests conducted Tuesday.

People in their 20s, 30s and 40s made up 69 percent of all new cases.

The metropolitan government has raised its alert for the pandemic to the highest of four levels, meaning infections are spreading.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said Friday that the metropolitan government would consult experts to see whether its requests on karaoke venues and drinking establishments that serve alcohol to close by 10 p.m. should be extended beyond the end of this month.

Shigeru Omi, head of a government subcommittee on COVID-19 measures, said Thursday that the recent swelling of new case numbers was likely to have hit a peak.

But economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who is leading the government’s coronavirus response effort, said Friday that people should not let down their guard in order to prevent new cases from surging again.

In other regions, Osaka Prefecture posted 166 new cases, up by 34 from a day earlier. Aichi Prefecture logged 90 infections, up by eight from Thursday.

Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo, announced one death and 82 new infections, down by 22 from a day earlier.

Across Japan, the number of new infections totaled 1,184 on Thursday, holding above 1,000 for a second straight day, with the total tally of cases in the country standing at above 60,000.

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