• Staff report, Jiji

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The number of seriously ill COVID-19 patients in Japan as of Monday rose 10 from the previous day to 472, hitting a record high for the eighth straight day, according to the health ministry.

The daily count of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country came to 1,446 on the day, standing below 2,000 for the first time in five days.

The country’s COVID-19 death toll climbed 25 to 2,164, with five new deaths reported in Hokkaido and four in Osaka.

Tokyo confirmed 311 new cases of the coronavirus Monday, bringing November’s tally to a monthly record of 9,857 amid a resurgence of infections in various parts of Japan as the winter season approaches.

The monthly tally surpassed the previous record set in August by around 1,700 infections, while the capital’s cumulative total of coronavirus infections reached 40,939.

The daily figure was down from the 418 infections reported Sunday and a record 570 new cases logged Friday. Infection numbers tend to be lower on Mondays as fewer hospitals and clinics are open on weekends.

The number of severe COVID-19 cases totaled 70 in Tokyo on Monday, up three from the previous day and marking the highest level since the central government lifted a state of emergency over the pandemic in late May.

The average daily cases in the capital for the past week stood at 418.3, nearly 2.5 times higher than the 169.3 rolling average reported on Nov. 1.
On Nov. 19, the metropolitan government raised its virus alert to the highest of four levels.

The metropolitan government on Saturday started requesting restaurants and other establishments serving alcohol to shorten business hours by closing at 10 p.m. as part of efforts to prevent the further spread of the virus.

Amid the recent surge in infections nationwide, the cities of Sapporo, Osaka and Nagoya have also asked bars and restaurants to shorten their business hours for about three weeks, with subsidies provided for those who comply. But some establishments are refusing to follow the requests as they have already been hit hard amid the pandemic.

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