• STAFF REPORT, JIJI, Kyodo

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Japan confirmed a record 119 new deaths linked to the novel coronavirus on Tuesday, as the government announced a one-month extension to its state of emergency for 10 areas.

The figure came as the country also reported 2,324 new infections, standing under 3,000 for the third straight day. The number of severely ill COVID-19 patients, meanwhile, fell by 38 from Monday to 937, the health ministry said.

Tokyo reported 556 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, staying below the 1,000 threshold for the fifth successive day. But the capital also reported a daily record 23 new fatalities.

Tuesday’s total number of infections was the lowest for a Sunday since Dec. 15, when the capital confirmed 457 cases. It comes after the capital reported 393 cases on Monday.

Of the 556 cases, 114 were in their 20s, 93 in their 30s and 89 in their 40s. Those 65 or older accounted for 133 cases, the metropolitan government said in a statement. Under its standards, the number of severely ill patients in the capital fell by four from the previous day to 129.

The cumulative number of cases in the capital is now 100,790. Tokyo’s daily figure comes after 6,477 tests were conducted on Saturday. It usually takes around three days for tests to produce results.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced Tuesday that 10 prefectures, including Tokyo and Osaka, will remain under the coronavirus state of emergency through March 7, part of continued efforts to halt the recent surge of infections to a level at which restrictions on economic activities can be lifted.

The current state of emergency is in effect across 11 areas — Tokyo and the prefectures of Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama, Tochigi, Osaka, Hyogo, Kyoto, Aichi, Gifu and Fukuoka.

The government decided to remove Tochigi from the list after conditions in the prefecture improved. The same measures as under the current declaration will continue to be applied, but could be dialed back or lifted altogether before March 7 depending on numbers of new cases and hospital occupancy.

Tokyo saw nearly 40,000 new coronavirus cases in January, more than double the previous monthly record infections in December, according to the metropolitan government.

The central government has suggested that the emergency declaration may be lifted if the daily number of coronavirus cases in Tokyo falls below 500.

But a metropolitan government official said it was too early to be optimistic based on Monday’s figure alone. While the seven-day rolling average of new cases has fallen below 1,000, it remains high at 818.

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