• Kyodo

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Hokkaido reported a record 187 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, local government officials said.

With the figure exceeding 100 for a third straight day, the Hokkaido government called on night clubs and bars to halt operations between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. in Sapporo's entertainment district until Nov. 27.

The local government raised its own five-level pandemic alert to the third highest level, the officials said, meaning stronger measures are needed to prevent the strain on the medical system from increasing further.

Hokkaido, which reported 119 new cases on Thursday and 115 on Friday, and northeastern parts of the country have recently seen clusters of infections.

Experts have warned that the rising trend of infections in these regions could be the result of people spending time in poorly ventilated rooms as temperatures drop.

The new cases on Saturday would bring Hokkaido's cumulative total to over 3,800.

In late February, Hokkaido Gov. Naomichi Suzuki declared a state of emergency and asked residents to refrain from nonessential outings, more than a month before the central government did so for seven densely populated prefectures. The central government's measure was later expanded nationwide.

Urban areas have been seeing high numbers of infections lately, with the nationwide daily figure at 1,141 on Friday, bringing the cumulative total to over 106,800.

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