• STAFF REPORT, JIJI, KYODO

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Tokyo confirmed 1,809 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, a day after confirming 2,001 new infections.

The number of severely ill patients counted under Tokyo’s criteria rose by three to 136, the metropolitan government said. Among the total number of new cases, people in their 20s made up the largest group at 379, followed by 302 for people in their 30s and 294 among people in their 40s. The number of cases among people 65 and older was 318. The cumulative total in the capital is now 83,878.

Tokyo’s daily figure comes after 14,106 tests, a record high, were conducted on Wednesday. It usually takes around three days for tests to produce results.

The rising numbers of new coronavirus cases and those with unclear infection routes in Tokyo may be indicating a possible explosive spread of infections in the capital, an expert said at a metropolitan government meeting on Thursday. The daily number of new coronavirus infections averaged 1,698.9 in the week through Wednesday, up from 1,029.3 in the preceding week.

Japan is still in the throes of a third wave, with the daily number of new coronavirus cases hitting a record 7,883 on Jan. 8.

Elsewhere, Saitama and Fukuoka prefectures, both under the government's state of emergency, posted record new cases Saturday with 582 and 411 cases, respectively. Yamaguchi Prefecture in western Japan posted a record 37 new cases.

Kanagawa, Osaka, Aichi, Hyogo and Hokkaido prefectures logged 830, 629, 323, 265 and 192 new cases, respectively, on Saturday.

On Friday, Japan reported 7,133 new cases, marking a daily count above 7,000 for the first time in six days. The number of severely ill patients, meanwhile, rose by 14 from the previous day to a record 934, according to the health ministry.

A hand-pulled rickshaw in front of Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate), one of the gateways to the popular Sensoji temple in Tokyo's Asakusa district on Friday | KYODO
A hand-pulled rickshaw in front of Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate), one of the gateways to the popular Sensoji temple in Tokyo’s Asakusa district on Friday | KYODO

Also Friday, the number of new cases hit record highs in the prefectures of Ibaraki, with 159, Chiba (504), Fukui (25), Kagawa (37) and Saga Prefecture (35). Nationwide Friday, 78 death linked to the virus were confirmed, including 12 in Osaka Prefecture, 11 in Aichi Prefecture and 10 each in Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture.

Meanwhile, seven people tested positive for new variants of the virus Friday, sending the country's cumulative number of such infections to 41, according to the health ministry. The seven had visited Britain, South Africa and other places, and two of them have developed symptoms such as a fever, the ministry said.

U.S. Forces Japan started vaccinations against COVID-19 at six military facilities in the country in late December, officials have said.

According to the headquarters of U.S. Forces Japan and Japan's Defense Ministry, a vaccine developed by U.S. biopharmaceutical firm Moderna Inc. has been administered to personnel at Yokota Air Base in Tokyo, Misawa Air Base in Aomori Prefecture, Yokosuka Naval Base and Camp Zama in Kanagawa Prefecture, and Kadena Air Base and Camp Foster in Okinawa Prefecture.

In the first shipment, U.S. Forces Japan received 7,500 to 8,000 doses of the vaccine.

The number of U.S. military personnel stationed in Japan and their family members stands at about 110,000.

Some 20,000 Japanese people work at U.S. military installations in Japan. But since the Japanese government has not yet approved any COVID-19 vaccine, the ministry has asked the United States not to vaccinate the Japanese workers.

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