• STAFF REPORT, JIJI

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Tokyo reported a record 949 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday as cases continue to climb throughout the country, a day after it was announced that a mutated form of the virus blamed for a spike in cases in the U.K. had been detected in Japan.

Local media on Saturday reported that two individuals were infected with the mutated form of the virus in Tokyo, the first cases outside of quarantine facilities at airports. According to NHK, one of the individuals is a pilot who has recently spent time in the U.K.

Among the daily total in Tokyo, 113 cases involved people age 65 or older while the number of severely ill patients, based on the city’s standards, came to 81 — the same as the previous day, according to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

People in their 20s made up the largest group, at 277, followed by 202 people in their 30s and 134 people in their 50s. The cumulative number of infections in the capital stood at 55,851.

The spike in new cases in the capital comes after 9,502 coronavirus tests were administered on Wednesday. It usually takes around three days for tests to produce results.

Other prefectures also saw high infection numbers on Saturday with Kyoto and Shiga prefectures logging records of 135 and 49, respectively. Aichi Prefecture reported 265 cases and one death while Hyogo Prefecture confirmed 175 cases and eight deaths.

On Friday, Japan confirmed a record 3,832 new coronavirus cases, the third consecutive day above 3,000.

The country also saw its first cases of a mutated form of COVID-19 in five people who entered the nation from the U.K., health minister Norihisa Tamura said the same day.

The people who tested positive Friday with the new strain, which is said to spread more easily and was blamed for a recent spike in infections in the U.K., returned to Japan this month — two at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport and and three at Kansai International Airport in Osaka.

Japan on Thursday imposed a temporary ban on new arrivals of foreign nationals from Britain coming for purposes such as business or study, but existing foreign residents and Japanese nationals have still been allowed to enter.

On Friday, Japan reported a record 64 new deaths from the virus, including 15 in Hyogo Prefecture and 10 in Tokyo. There were 644 seriously ill patients with the virus.

Five prefectures saw a record number of new daily cases, with Saitama, at 298, Kyoto, at 121, Hyogo, at 232, Hiroshima, at 141, and Kumamoto, at 68.

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