• Jiji, Kyodo, staff report

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Tokyo reported 178 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, according to the metropolitan government, the capital’s lowest daily figure since it reported 156 infections on Nov. 9.

The figure, which also stayed below 500 for the 16th consecutive day, comes after the pace of increase in newly confirmed infections nationwide slowed for the sixth consecutive week as Tokyo and nine other prefectures remain subject to a state of emergency declared to control the spread of the virus.

Nationwide, the tally of new cases came to 740 the same day, falling below 1,000 for the first time in seven days, while 56 new deaths linked to the virus were reported. The number of seriously ill patients stood at 510, down one from the previous day, according to the health ministry.

Of the people newly found positive in Tokyo, 35 are in their 20s, 34 in their 30s and 28 in their 40s. Those age 65 or over accounted for 39. The number of severely ill coronavirus patients under the metropolitan government’s criteria fell by six from a day earlier to 76. The cumulative number of cases in the capital is now 109,912.

Tokyo’s daily figure came after 5,197 tests were conducted on Friday. It usually takes about three days for test results to be reflected in the daily case count.

Osaka Prefecture, meanwhile, logged 62 new cases, marking the fifth consecutive day with fewer than 100 new infections, while Tochigi Prefecture reported no new cases for the first time since Nov. 8.

Infection with a coronavirus variant that has spread in Britain was also newly confirmed in five people, including in Osaka and neighboring Kyoto Prefecture.

Ahead of the release of Monday’s figures, the cumulative number of cases nationwide, including among cruise ship passengers and crew members, stood at 426,327, with 9,654 people newly found positive in the past week, compared with 10,384 in the preceding week.

The total number of deaths linked to the virus in Japan, meanwhile, came to 7,506 as of Monday morning, up by 523 from a week before.

By prefecture, Tokyo had the highest cumulative number of cases, at 109,734, including 3,229 cases confirmed over the past week, up from 2,660 in the preceding week. Osaka Prefecture had the second-highest cumulative count, at 46,581, up by 634 from a week before, followed by Kanagawa, at 44,085, up 821.

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