• Staff report, Jiji

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The total number of novel coronavirus-linked deaths recorded so far in Osaka Prefecture increased 15 from the previous day to 1,958 on Sunday, exceeding Tokyo’s 1,951.

The western prefecture outpaced Tokyo in cumulative fatalities for the first time since Feb. 3.

On Sunday, 5,262 new infection cases were reported across Japan, while new fatal cases numbered 47. The number of severely ill COVID-19 patients dropped eight from the previous day to 1,223.

Osaka Prefecture logged 620 new COVID-19 cases and 15 coronavirus-linked deaths while Tokyo reported 542 cases and no fatalities a day after logging 772 infections.

The total in Osaka was lower than the 785 cases and 42 deaths it reported a day earlier, but still just above the 600 threshold. The daily tally in the prefecture fell below 600 on Friday, when it reported 576 cases, for the first time since early April.

In Tokyo, Sunday’s figure came after the it reported 1,032 cases a week ago and 879 on May 2.

In the capital, the seven-day average of new infections came to 806.4, compared to 798.4 a week before.

Among the new cases, people age 65 or older accounted for 61 infections. The number of COVID-19 patients in Tokyo considered to be seriously ill under the metropolitan government’s criteria came to 84, down one from Saturday.

Also Sunday, tougher measures in the fight against the coronavirus entered into effect in six prefectures nationwide, with three coming under an expanded state of emergency and another three under a quasi-emergency.

Hokkaido, Okayama and Hiroshima joined Tokyo and five other prefectures already under the emergency, which is set to run through May 31, while a quasi-emergency currently covering seven prefectures was expanded to Gunma, Ishikawa and Kumamoto until June 13.

On Saturday, the total number of cases in Japan stayed above 6,000 for the fifth straight day as 6,425 new infections were confirmed.

The number of severely ill patients rose 22 from the previous day to 1,231, hitting a record high, while 94 deaths linked to the virus were reported. Osaka Prefecture, meanwhile, reported 785 positive cases and 42 fatalities on Saturday as the number of severely ill patients rose by five to 380, staying above the number of hospital beds secured for such people by the prefectural government.

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