• staff report, Jiji

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Osaka Prefecture reported 341 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, topping Tokyo’s 249 cases, as stronger measures to prevent the spread of the deadly virus officially began in Osaka, Hyogo and Miyagi prefectures amid a sharp resurgence in infections there.

Monday’s figure for Osaka came after it reported 593 cases on Sunday and a record-high 666 cases on Saturday.

The figure in the capital represented a slight uptick over the last two weeks, after it reported 234 cases on March 29 and 187 on March 22, the previous two Mondays.

The seven-day average of cases in the capital is now 391.9, compared to a weekly average of 357.7 reported last Monday.

Among the new cases in the capital, 79 people were in their 20s, 51 were in their 30s and 31 were in their 40s, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said in a statement. Cases involving patients age 65 or older totaled 25.

The number of severely ill COVID-19 patients according to the metropolitan government’s criteria fell by one to 46. The cumulative number of cases in the capital is now 122,951.

As of 10 a.m. Monday, the cumulative number of infections nationwide, including among cruise ship passengers and crew members, came to 486,502, up by 16,884 from a week earlier.

The weekly total of newly confirmed cases exceeded 10,000 for the second straight week and surpassed the preceding week’s total for the fifth consecutive week. The country’s cumulative toll of deaths linked to the pandemic stood at 9,249, up by 171 from a week before.

Among the nation’s 47 prefectures, Osaka recorded the highest number of new cases over the past week, at 3,732, with the prefecture’s cumulative infection count coming to 54,689. New cases in the week stood at 2,728 in Tokyo, 1,247 in Hyogo Prefecture, 940 in Saitama Prefecture and 866 in Miyagi Prefecture.

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 the cities of Nishinomiya, Amagasaki and Ashiya in Hyogo Prefecture as well as Osaka, Kobe and Sendai — comes as a fourth wave of cases appears to be developing.

On Sunday, 2,471 new cases were reported nationwide. Twelve deaths linked to the virus were also confirmed across the country.

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