• staff report, Jiji

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Tokyo reported 279 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, as the government was set to extend the current state of emergency by about two weeks.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said during a Diet session Thursday that Tokyo and and three nearby prefectures are in a “crucial stage” to contain COVID-19 infections, reiterating remarks he made the previous day about the need to extend the emergency beyond the scheduled end on Sunday.

Suga has said he will make a final decision after consulting with experts. The decision is likely to be made on Friday.

Of Thursday’s new cases in the capital, 71 were from people in their 20s, 40 people were in their 30s and 36 were in their 40s. Those age 65 or over accounted for 62 cases.

The number of severely ill COVID-19 patients under the metropolitan government’s criteria fell by one from a day earlier to 51. The cumulative number of cases in the capital is now 112,624.

Tokyo’s daily case total came after 9,751 tests were conducted on Monday. It usually takes about three days for test results to affect the daily case count.

At Thursday’s Diet committee session, Shigeru Omi, head of the government’s COVID-19 advisory panel, said it will be the right choice to extend the state of emergency as the metropolitan area faces higher risks of a resurgence in infections than other areas.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi suggested that the government is making efforts for stable supply of COVID-19 vaccines in the country, noting that the European Union has so far fully approved vaccine exports to Japan.

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