• STAFF REPORT, JIJI

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Hokkaido logged 658 new cases of the coronavirus Saturday, its fourth consecutive day over 600, while Tokyo reported 602.

The figure in the capital was lower than the 772 cases reported last Saturday and the 1,121 on May 8.

Elsewhere, Okinawa Prefecture set another record with 231 cases on Saturday, a day after the government announced it would be added to the state of emergency, while Osaka Prefecture reported 406 new cases and 24 deaths amid early signs that a deadly wave of infections in the Kansai region is subsiding.

In Tokyo, the number of COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms under the metropolitan government’s standards fell by three from Friday to 62, while the seven-day average of new infections in the capital came to 650.4, down from 876.4 a week before.

Among the new cases, people age 65 or older accounted for 69 cases, the metropolitan government said.

On Friday, Japan confirmed 5,252 new cases, exceeding the 5,000-threshold for the fourth consecutive day, while the number of severely ill patients across the country rose by six from Thursday to 1,294, a record high. New fatalities totaled 113, including 22 in Osaka Prefecture.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced Friday evening that the country’s state of emergency will be expanded to Okinawa, adding one more prefecture to what is a growing list of 10 areas where the order will be in effect.

The state of emergency will be in place from Sunday through June 20 in the country’s southernmost prefecture. As of Thursday, more than 90% of hospital beds for COVID-19 patients in Okinawa were occupied, and officials fear medical facilities will be overwhelmed if new cases continue to increase.

Gifu Prefecture, where pre-emergency measures are active, had requested to be added to the state of emergency list, but the central government rejected the request and chose instead to keep current measures in place.

The state of emergency is scheduled to expire in nine prefectures on May 31, making Okinawa the only prefecture to have a state of emergency in place into June.

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