• STAFF REPORT, JIJI, KYODO

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Tokyo reported 275 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, the metropolitan government said, a day after the capital logged its lowest daily figure since early November.

Tuesday’s tally, which was also below 500 for the 17th consecutive day, came as Kyoto, Osaka and Hyogo prefectures asked the central government to lift the novel coronavirus state of emergency at the end of the month, ahead of its end date on March 7.

Of the people newly found to be infected with the virus in Tokyo, 61 were in their 20s, 50 in their 30s and 35 in their 50s. Those age 65 or over accounted for 65 cases.

The number of severely ill COVID-19 patients under the metropolitan government’s criteria rose by one from a day earlier to 77. Reflecting the latest figures, the cumulative number of cases in the capital was 110,187.

Tokyo’s daily case total came after 4,154 tests were conducted on Saturday. It usually takes about three days for test results to affect the daily case count.

Meanwhile, the prefectural governors of Kyoto, Osaka and Hyogo held a virtual meeting Tuesday with economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who is leading the country’s response to the pandemic.

The state of emergency, Japan’s second in response to the pandemic, was initially declared for one month on Jan. 7 and covered 11 prefectures including Tokyo and the surrounding areas. The emergency was later extended through March 7 for 10 of the prefectures.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike remains cautious about lifting the emergency in the capital, which is said to still be experiencing a “severe” infection situation.

Koike said she was also planning to hold a virtual meeting Tuesday, with the governors of neighboring Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures.

On Monday, the nationwide tally of new COVID-19 cases came to 740, 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.

Osaka Prefecture, meanwhile, logged 62 new cases Monday, 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.

Infections with a novel coronavirus variant that has spread in the U.K. were also newly confirmed in five people, including in Osaka and neighboring Kyoto Prefecture.

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