• staff report, Jiji

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The daily death toll from the novel coronavirus in Japan topped 100 for the first time ever on Tuesday, as the country confirmed 104 new fatalities from the virus.

The number of coronavirus patients with severe symptoms across the nation as of midnight Monday grew by 28 from a day before to 1,001, topping 1,000 for the first time and hitting a record high for the 16th straight day, according to the health ministry.

The new deaths included 16 in Tokyo, 13 in Osaka Prefecture, and 10 in Saitama Prefecture. The country confirmed 5,321 new coronavirus cases.

Tokyo recorded 1,240 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday as the number of severely ill patients counted under Tokyo’s criteria surged by 12 to 155, the metropolitan government said, amid fears of hospitals being overwhelmed by the virus.

Tuesday’s total number of cases was just short of last week’s daily record for a Tuesday — 1,278 — and came as the capital continued its second weekend under the fresh coronavirus state of emergency.

Among the total number of new cases, people in their 20s made up the largest group at 282, followed by 211 for people in their 30s and 192 among people in their 40s. The number of cases among people 65 and older was 217. The cumulative total in the capital is now 87,914.

Tokyo’s daily figure comes after 6,994 tests were conducted Saturday. 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, experts have said. 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.

The health ministry said that 10 foreign crew members of a cargo ship that arrived at Kobe Port in western Japan on Monday tested positive for the virus. They are men in their 20s to 50s from China, Hong Kong and Thailand.

It is the first time a case has been detected at a maritime quarantine station in Japan since hundreds of cases were recorded aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship that arrived in Yokohama Port in February last year.

Two men in their 30s tested positive for the coronavirus variant spreading across Britain, bringing the domestic number of variant cases to 47, according to the ministry.

The two arrived at Narita International Airport in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, on Jan. 10. They had previously visited Ghana and Britain, respectively. Both show no symptoms.

On Monday, Japan reported 4,925 cases, while patients with severe symptoms nationwide grew by one from the previous day to a record high of 973. The cumulative death toll from the virus rose by 58 to 4,596. Yamaguchi Prefecture on Monday saw a daily record of 88 new cases. Of them, 68 involved a hospital in Ube, where two cases had been reported.

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