• Kyodo, Jiji, staff report

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Osaka Prefecture confirmed a record 1,099 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, topping the 1,000 mark for the first time, as the prefecture battles a surge in infections in recent weeks.

The figure is higher than the previous record of 918, reported on Saturday, and comes after 603 cases were reported on Monday.

“It’s extremely serious,” Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura told reporters, adding that the prefecture will call on the central government to declare a state of emergency if the situation does not improve next week.

Osaka and the wider Kansai area have seen a surge in the number of people infected with highly contagious variants of the virus, according to local authorities.

Hyogo Prefecture also confirmed a record 391 new cases on Tuesday.

Osaka, along with Tokyo and some other areas, recently imposed tougher measures to control the spread of the virus including asking restaurants and bars to close by 8 p.m. under a quasi-state of emergency.

Yoshimura said he may request temporary closures of restaurants and bars, instead of shortening of business hours, if a fresh state of emergency is issued.

Meanwhile, Tokyo reported 510 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday amid growing fears of a fourth wave of the deadly virus.

The figure was significantly more than the number of cases the last two Tuesdays, 399 on April 6 and 364 on March 30.

The average number of daily new cases in the capital in the week through Tuesday jumped to 492, compared to an average of 396.9 in the previous week.

Of the new cases, 156 were confirmed among people in their 20s, 100 among those in their 40s and 87 among those in their 30s. Those age 65 or older accounted for 47 cases.

The number of infected people with severe symptoms under the metropolitan government’s criteria fell by one from the previous day to 41. The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in the capital came to 126,794.

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