• staff report, Jiji, Kyodo

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The nationwide daily total of new COVID-19 cases dipped below 7,000 for the first time in three days on Sunday, public broadcaster NHK reported, as Tokyo confirmed 1,494 infections — far surpassing the record for a Sunday of 817 set just last week.

The figure in the capital ended a run of three straight days over 2,000, including a record high 2,447 on Thursday.

Sunday also saw 729 cases in Kanagawa Prefecture, 414 in Saitama Prefecture and 388 in Chiba Prefecture. The three were put under a new state of emergency on Thursday and have continued to see high daily COVID-19 tallies.

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. Osaka Prefecture saw 532 cases, Kyoto reported 146 infections and Hyogo confirmed 269 cases.

Elsewhere, Aichi Prefecture reported 343 cases and Fukuoka Prefecture confirmed 284 infections.

In Tokyo, the number of severely ill COVID-19 patients in the city based on the metropolitan government’s standards fell by one to 128 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, 403 are in their 20s, 261 in their 30s, 236 in their 40s and 201 in their 50s. Those aged 65 or over, who are at a higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms, accounted for 182.

The cumulative number of infections in the capital stood at 74,944, according to the metropolitan government.

The spike in new cases comes after 13,774 coronavirus tests were administered on Thursday. 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.

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

Of the deaths reported that day, 10 were in Osaka Prefecture, eight in Tokyo, and five in Chiba Prefecture. In Hokkaido, four people were confirmed dead, with cumulative coronavirus fatalities there 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.

On Saturday, the number of coronavirus patients in severe condition came to a record 827, up by one from a day earlier, according to the health ministry.

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