• staff report, Jiji

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Tokyo reported 419 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, with the figure dipping below 500 for the first time since April 26. The capital reported 542 new cases on Sunday.

Monday's figure was lower than the 573 cases a week ago and the 708 on May 3. Case numbers on Mondays are usually lower than other days since some testing sites are closed over the weekend.

Elsewhere across the country, hard-hit Osaka Prefecture reported 382 new cases — the first time below 400 in 42 days — and 23 deaths linked to the virus. Ibaraki Prefecture saw 80 cases, the most ever for a Monday, while Hokkaido confirmed 372 cases, including 210 from the city of Sapporo.

In the capital, the seven-day average of new infections came to 784.4, compared to 779.1 a week before.

Among the new cases, people age 65 or older accounted for 51 infections. The number of COVID-19 patients in Tokyo considered to be seriously ill under the metropolitan government's criteria came to 85, up one from Sunday.

Ahead of the daily caseload announcements, the cumulative number of cases reported nationwide, including among cruise ship passengers and crew members, reached 685,517 as of 10 a.m. Monday, up by 43,025 from a week before.

The weekly count of new infections surpassed the preceding week's total for the 11th consecutive week. The country's total COVID-19 death toll rose by 613 to 11,537.

Of the nine prefectures placed under the government's coronavirus state of emergency, Osaka Prefecture saw its weekly cases decline to 5,233, while the tally in neighboring Hyogo Prefecture fell to 2,271. Tokyo saw its figure almost unchanged at 5,645.

On the other hand, Hokkaido, Aichi and Fukuoka prefectures saw their new cases surge to 3,721, 4,022 and 3,410, respectively. The weekly number came to 959 in Kyoto Prefecture, which also borders Osaka, 1,149 in Okayama Prefecture and 1,438 in Hiroshima Prefecture.

The number of COVID-19 fatalities over the past week stood at 243 in Osaka, 84 in Hyogo, 33 in Tokyo, 37 in Hokkaido, 19 each in Aichi and Fukuoka, 12 in Okayama, and three each in Kyoto and Hiroshima.

On Sunday, tougher measures in the fight against the coronavirus came into effect in six prefectures, 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. A quasi-emergency currently covering seven prefectures was expanded to Gunma, Ishikawa and Kumamoto until June 13.

Nationwide Sunday, 5,262 new cases were reported, while 47 deaths were reported. The number of severely ill COVID-19 patients, meanwhile, dropped by eight from the previous day to 1,223.

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