• staff report, Jiji

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The daily number of new COVID-19 cases in Japan reached 3,608 on Tuesday, rising above the 3,000 mark for the first time in three days.

Meanwhile, the number of severely ill COVID-19 patients across the country increased by 14 from the previous day to a new record high of 675.

The total number of fatalities among infected people climbed by 59, with 10 new deaths reported in the western prefecture of Hyogo, eight in the eastern prefecture of Kanagawa and six each in the northern prefecture of Hokkaido and the eastern prefecture of Saitama.

The daily COVID-19 tally hit a record high in Saitama, the eastern prefecture of Tochigi, the central prefecture of Gifu and the western prefectures of Tottori and Yamaguchi.

In Tokyo, the daily count of new infections stood at 856, the fourth-highest figure for any day on record.

The figure far outpaced the capital’s previous high for a Tuesday, of 563 cases, set just last week, and came three days after the city logged a record 949 infections in one day.

Tuesday was the 15th straight day Tokyo recorded a new high for that day of the week.

Among Tuesday’s total, 125 cases involved people age 65 or older while the number of severely ill patients, based on the city’s standards, came to 84 — three more than the previous day — according to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

The number of severely ill patients in Tokyo remains around its highest level since early May.

In Tuesday’s new cases, people in their 20s made up the largest group, at 220, followed by 169 people in their 30s and 129 people in their 50s. The cumulative number of infections in the capital stood at 57,896.

The rising numbers of new cases in the capital come after 5,545 coronavirus tests were administered Saturday. It usually takes around three days for tests to produce results.

On Monday, a total of 2,400 new cases were confirmed nationwide, with the daily total below 3,000 for the second straight day. Meanwhile, the number of severely ill patients as of Monday had risen by two from the previous day to a record 661, while 51 new coronavirus-linked deaths were reported, including 13 and eight in the western prefectures of Osaka and Hyogo, respectively.

Japan suspended on Monday new arrivals of nonresident foreign nationals to the country from most of the world through the end of January, as it seeks to prevent the spread of a new, potentially more transmissible variant of the virus.

The new virus strain, first detected in the U.K., has since been confirmed in more than 20 countries as well as Hong Kong.

Separately Monday, Japan detected another variant of the virus that had been identified in South Africa, the government said, marking its discovery in the country for the first time.

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