• Staff report, Jiji, Kyodo


Japan confirmed at least 5,044 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, the first time for the daily tally to top 5,000 since Jan. 22, as the government weighed declaring a new state of emergency in some parts of the nation.

Osaka Prefecture logged a record daily high of 1,242 new cases, while neighboring Hyogo Prefecture reported a record 563 new cases.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday he could declare a state of emergency in Tokyo as well as Osaka and surrounding prefectures within the week amid the surge in infections.

"We will cooperate with local governments and study the contents of the measures" they plan to take, Suga told reporters after meeting with members of his Cabinet including health minister Norihisa Tamura and Yasutoshi Nishimura, minister in charge of the government's coronavirus response.

Tokyo confirmed 843 new cases, the first tally above 800 since Jan. 29. The capital saw its seven-day average of new cases rise 33.8% from a week before to 665.3. People age 65 or over, who are at high risk of developing severe symptoms, accounted for 84 of the new cases in Tokyo. The number of severely ill patients fell by two from Tuesday to 48. Tokyo's figure was also markedly higher than the previous two Tuesdays — 591 on April 14 and 555 on April 7.

The metropolitan government could make a decision regarding a new state of emergency after hearing from health experts Thursday, sources close to the matter have said.

Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura on Tuesday formally requested that the central government put his prefecture under the emergency. Hyogo is also expected to request that the central government make an emergency declaration.

Record highs were also reported in the prefectures of Nara (112 cases), Mie (57 cases), Niigata (48 cases) and Fukui (26 cases).

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