• staff report, Jiji

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Tokyo reported 542 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, as momentum grow for the extension of a coronavirus state of emergency covering Tokyo, Osaka and other areas beyond the current deadline of May 31.

The daily tally in the capital was fewer than the 732 seen last Tuesday and the 925 on May 11, while the seven-day average for its daily tally of new cases came to 611.0, compared to 756.9 a week earlier.

Under the metropolitan government’s criteria, the number of severely ill COVID-19 patients increased by three from Monday to 71. Among the daily tally, those age 65 or older accounted for 62 cases.

As for the emergency extension, one plan under discussion is for the nine prefectures to get a new deadline of June 20, the same as Okinawa, which was put under the declaration on Sunday, the sources said. Another is for it to expire on June 13.

On Monday, Japan confirmed 2,712 new cases, the first daily figure below 3,000 since April 19. The number of severely ill patients, meanwhile, fell by four from Sunday to 1,300. There were 85 new deaths, including 35 in Osaka Prefecture, 15 in Hokkaido and eight in Hyogo Prefecture.

The Japanese capital also confirmed on Monday its first cluster of infections with the L452R coronavirus variant, which is spreading in India. The cluster involved five men in their 30s to 40s, none of whom developed severe symptoms. Two are hospitalized, while the other three have already recovered. They are believed to have been infected by the same roommate who returned from South Asia in mid-April.

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