• STAFF REPORT, JIJI, KYODO

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The death toll linked to COVID-19 in Japan reached 4,035 on Saturday, after 59 new fatalities were confirmed amid a resurgence of the deadly virus in the country.

Of the newly confirmed deaths, 10 were in Osaka Prefecture, eight in Tokyo, and five in Chiba Prefecture. In Hokkaido, four people were confirmed dead, with cumulative coronavirus fatalities in the northernmost japan prefecture reaching 500.

The nationwide pace of deaths linked to the coronavirus is accelerating, taking less than 20 days for the number to top 4,000 after exceeding 3,000 on Dec. 22. The toll rose above 1,000 on July 20 and surpassed 2,000 about four months later, on Nov. 22, and topped 3,000 a month later.

The news came as the nationwide number of new infections totaled 7,787 on Saturday, rising above 7,000 for the third consecutive day. As of the same day, the number of coronavirus patients in severe condition came to a record 827, up by one from Friday, according to the health ministry.

On Saturday, Tokyo reported 2,268 COVID-19 cases, a record for a Saturday and the third-straight day over 2,000. Neighboring Kanagawa Prefecture, meanwhile, saw its daily case count rise by a record 999.

The Tokyo figure came two days after a record high 2,447 infections were reported in the capital.

The number of severely ill COVID-19 patients in the city based on the metropolitan government’s standards remained static, at a record 129, as hospitals continue to face the prospect of being overwhelmed amid the surge in cases.

Of the people newly found with the virus in Tokyo, 654 are in their 20s, 437 in their 30s, 337 in their 40s and 302 in their 50s. Those aged 65 or over, who are at a higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms, accounted for 266.

The cumulative number of infections in the capital stood at 73,450, according to the metropolitan government.

The spike in new cases comes after 13,683 coronavirus tests were administered on Wednesday. It usually takes around three days for tests to produce results.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said Friday the metropolitan government aims to lower the daily number of new coronavirus cases in the capital to around 500 by Feb. 7, the final day of the state of emergency covering the greater Tokyo area over the epidemic. The capital previously saw its daily number hover around 500 in mid-December.

Infections are spreading rapidly beyond the capital region as well.

Three Kansai prefectures, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo, on Saturday formally asked the central government to expand the state of emergency to cover them as well. New cases in Hyogo hit a record 324, while Osaka posted 647 new cases, its second highest total.

Gifu Prefecture issued its own state of emergency on Saturday, urging its residents to refrain from unnecessary outings after 8 p.m.. It asked restaurants that serve alcohol to close by 8 p.m.

Aichi Prefecture, which is also considering requesting that it be included in the state of emergency, posted 362 new cases.

Elsewhere, Hokkaido reported 215 new cases while Nagasaki Prefecture reported a daily high of 60.

On Friday, Japan confirmed 7,884 new COVID-19 cases, marking a record high for the fourth straight day.

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