• Staff report, Jiji

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Osaka Prefecture reported 593 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, while 355 new cases were reported in Tokyo the same day.

New cases in Osaka outnumbered those in Tokyo for the sixth straight day.

The daily count in Osaka fell below 600 for the first time in four days, but it remained much higher than the 323 figure reported last Sunday.

The daily total in Tokyo stood below 400 for the first time in five days. Tokyo’s figure came after the capital reported 313 cases on March 28 and 256 on March 21, the previous two Sundays.

The seven-day average of cases in the capital is now 389.7, compared to a weekly average of 351 reported last Sunday.

Among the new cases in the capital, 102 people were in their 20s, 76 were in their 30s and 53 were in their 50s, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said in a statement. Those age 65 or older totaled 29 cases.

The number of severely ill COVID-19 patients under the metropolitan government’s criteria fell by one to 47. The cumulative number of cases in the capital is now 122,702.

On Thursday, 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.

On Saturday, new cases nationwide totaled 2,771, rising above the 2,000 threshold for the fifth day in a row.

The coronavirus-linked death toll rose by eight from the previous day, while the number of seriously ill patients grew by 14 to 408.

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