• staff report, Jiji


Osaka Prefecture reported 616 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, confirming over 600 cases for the first time since Jan. 16, as the city of Osaka was set to be put under stricter virus countermeasures.

The government on Thursday decided to designate parts of Osaka, Miyagi and Hyogo prefectures as areas where stricter measures against the coronavirus will be taken, as they have been hit by a resurgence in new infections.

The figure in Osaka surpassed that of Tokyo for the third straight day. Tokyo confirmed 475 new cases Thursday as the capital braced for a fourth wave of infections.

Osaka has seen cases rise rapidly in recent days. Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura said daily infection numbers are likely to eventually rise “well above” Osaka’s previous peak of 654 cases recorded on Jan. 8.

Amid the uptick in cases, Yoshimura said Thursday that the Olympic torch relay slated to pass through city later this month should be canceled.

In Tokyo, the seven-day average of cases came to 372.3, compared to the average of 319.9 the previous week.

Among Thursday’s new cases in Tokyo, 114 people were in their 20s, 93 were in their 30s and 64 were in their 50s, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said in a statement. Those age 65 or older totaled 87 cases.

The number of severely ill COVID-19 patients under the metropolitan government’s criteria came to 44.

The cumulative number of cases in the capital is now 121,461.

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