Osaka Prefecture reported a single-day record 719 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday amid growing concern over a rapidly spreading variant of the deadly virus.
Tuesday’s number in Osaka more than doubled the previous day’s figure, 341, which also included 270 infections involving the virulent U.K. variant of the virus.
The new record in Osaka also topped the tally in Tokyo for the eighth consecutive day, with the capital reporting 399 cases as the nation’s health minister cautioned against rising case numbers there.
In a bid to stem the spread of the virus, new measures began being implemented in Osaka, Hyogo and Miyagi prefectures on Monday, with restaurants and bars in six major cities being asked to close by 8 p.m. or risk a possible fine of up to ¥200,000 ($1,800) for noncompliance.
Meanwhile, Tokyo’s figure represented a steady uptick over the last two weeks, after it reported 364 cases on March 30 and 337 on March 23, the previous two Tuesdays.
The seven-day average of cases in the capital is now 396.9, compared to a weekly average of 361.6 reported last Tuesday.
Among the new cases in the capital, 116 people were in their 20s, 96 were in their 30s and 60 were in their 50s, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said in a statement. Cases involving patients age 65 or older totaled 37.
The number of severely ill COVID-19 patients according to the metropolitan government’s criteria fell by two to 44. The cumulative number of cases in the capital is now 123,350.
Health minister Norihisa Tamura said Tuesday that the number of infections in the capital is steadily increasing and urged residents, business operators and health care workers to remain vigilant.
Although the rise in daily infections in the capital is not as sharp as in prefectures recently placed under more targeted pre-emergency measures against COVID-19, the current situation warrants “extreme caution” because a sharp rebound in the Tokyo metropolitan area could affect the whole nation, Tamura told a news conference.
On Monday, new cases nationwide numbered 1,565, falling below 2,000 for the first time since March 29. The country’s virus-linked death toll rose by 19, while the number of severely ill patients dropped 14 from the previous day to 445.
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