• STAFF REPORT, JIJI, KYODO

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Osaka Prefecture posted a record-high 666 new COVID-19 cases Saturday, marking a fifth straight day that the prefecture’s figure has topped that of Tokyo.

Osaka, which has now reported more than 600 new cases for three straight days, also logged two new deaths from the coronavirus. On Thursday, the government decided to take pre-emergency measures in Osaka, Hyogo and Miyagi prefectures as cases rise in those regions.

Tokyo confirmed 446 new COVID-19 infections Saturday after reporting 430 cases on March 27 and 342 on March 20, the previous two Saturdays.

The seven-day average of cases in the capital is now 383.7, compared to a weekly average of 342.9 reported last Saturday.

Among Saturday’s new cases in the capital, 131 people were in their 20s, 79 were in their 30s and 67 were in their 40s, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said in a statement. Those age 65 or older totaled 64 cases.

The number of severely ill COVID-19 patients under the metropolitan government’s criteria rose by five to 48. The cumulative number of cases in the capital is now 121,901.

The government designated Osaka, Hyogo and Miyagi as areas where pre-emergency measures can be taken, including compulsory steps that come with penalties for violators.

The decision on the pre-emergency measures, to be implemented from Monday until May 5 in six cities — the city of Osaka, Kobe, Sendai and Hyogo’s Nishinomiya, Amagasaki and Ashiya — comes as a fourth wave of cases appears to be taking shape.

Hyogo on Saturday recorded 211 cases, the same number it posted on Wednesday.

Elsewhere, Kanagawa Prefecture logged 129, while Aichi Prefecture recorded 118 and Okinawa 117.

On Friday, Japan confirmed 2,761 new cases, including through airport quarantine, while new deaths linked to the virus stood at 22. The number of severely ill coronavirus patients rose by 14 from Thursday to 394 nationwide.

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