• staff report, Jiji, Kyodo

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Tokyo confirmed 591 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, as Gov. Yuriko Koike said she would ask the central government to extend the current state of emergency beyond its scheduled end on Tuesday.

"We are not in a situation to be able to lift (the emergency). An extension is necessary," Koike told reporters Thursday after holding a coronavirus monitoring meeting with experts.

Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura also decided Thursday to ask for an extension to the current state of emergency.

Osaka Prefecture reported 747 new cases and 28 deaths Thursday. Although the daily number of new cases dropped from over 1,000 in recent days, Yoshimura attributed the fall to lower testing figures during the Golden Week holidays.

"It is difficult (to contain the spread) in a short period. I don't think we can relax the emergency measures," Yoshimura told reporters.

Comments from the Tokyo and Osaka governors came as the central government is set to decide on Friday whether to extend the emergency measures for Tokyo, Osaka, Hyogo and Kyoto.

The Tokyo metropolitan government is eyeing extending the emergency through the end of May, an official said, on the back of increasing reports of infections involving highly contagious variants of the virus.

Of Thursday's total in Tokyo, people age 65 or over, who are at high risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms, accounted for 72.

The number of coronavirus patients in serious condition under the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's criteria came to 72, up by three from Wednesday.

The daily number of new infections in Tokyo in the week through Thursday averaged 736.6, compared to 782.1 from a week ago.

On Wednesday, the number of coronavirus patients with serious symptoms in Japan hit a record high of 1,114, up by 31 from the previous day.

New COVID-19 fatalities stood at 60 on Wednesday, including 25 in Osaka Prefecture, and 13 in neighboring Hyogo Prefecture. Of the total in Hyogo, four people died while receiving treatment at home.

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