The number of COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms nationwide hit a record 1,050 on Sunday, up 30 from the previous day, as the country grapples with the coronavirus resurgence.
The previous record was 1,043 on Jan. 27 when about a dozen prefectures were under the second state of emergency.
The figure had stayed above 1,000 in the second half of January before falling below 400 in March, but began rising again in April.
On Sunday, the country reported 5,900 new COVID-19 cases, bringing its total above 600,000, while 61 new deaths linked to the virus were reported.
Tokyo and some western prefectures continued to see high infection numbers one week into the third state of emergency even though daily cases tend to decline during weekends when fewer tests are conducted.
On Sunday, Tokyo confirmed 879 new cases after reporting 1,050 the previous day, the highest number in over three months. Osaka Prefecture, meanwhile, confirmed 1,057 cases, its sixth straight day above 1,000.
Tokyo and the western prefectures of Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo are subject to the current state of emergency through May 11, covering the Golden Week holiday period that started Thursday and entailing stricter measures than before, including requiring restaurants serving alcohol to close.
Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of the government’s coronavirus response, said it is too early to judge whether an extension of the emergency will be needed.
Tokyo and the three western prefectures are “in the middle of a tug of war” between the effects of emergency measures and the higher transmissibility of virus variants, Nishimura told reporters.
Also Sunday, Hyogo Prefecture, which neighbors Osaka, reported 539 new cases and a record high of 95 severely ill patients. Kyoto Prefecture, which also borders Osaka, reported 164 new cases, its second-highest ever.
Hokkaido, meanwhile, confirmed a record high of 326 new cases, including 246 in its capital, Sapporo. Okayama and Ishikawa prefectures also had record new daily tallies of 114 and 40, respectively.
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