• Staff report, Kyodo, Jiji

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Tokyo reported 213 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, the metropolitan government said, as the central government eyed lifting the COVID-19 state of emergency for six prefectures.

Wednesday’s tally, which was below the 500 threshold for the 18th consecutive day, also dipped below the 275 cases a day earlier.

Of the people newly found to be infected with the virus in Tokyo on Wednesday, 38 were in their 40s, 32 in their 50s and 28 in their 20s. Those age 65 or over accounted for 60 cases.

The number of severely ill COVID-19 patients under the metropolitan government’s criteria dropped by eight from a day earlier to 69. Reflecting the latest figures, the cumulative number of cases in the capital was 110,400.

Tokyo’s daily case total came after 1,544 tests were conducted on Sunday. It usually takes about three days for test results to affect the daily case count.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was set to meet Wednesday evening with members of his Cabinet, including health minister Norihisa Tamura and Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of the government’s pandemic response, after hearing from a health ministry panel.

At the top of their agenda was a decision on whether to lift the emergency ahead of its scheduled expiry on March 7 for parts of the country that have seen improvements in their situation.

Of the 10 prefectures currently under the state of emergency, Tokyo and neighboring Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama prefectures are expected to remain under the declaration as their situation has not sufficiently improved.

But Aichi, Gifu, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo and Fukuoka prefectures could all be removed from the list this weekend as infections have declined and hospitals have become less strained.

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