• staff report, Jiji, kyodo

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Japan reported 936 new coronavirus cases on Monday, the first daily tally below 1,000 since March 22.

The country had 60 new COVID-19 fatalities. The number of severely ill patients fell by three from Sunday to 849, the health ministry said.

Hard-hit Osaka Prefecture reported 57 new COVID-19 cases, its lowest daily tally since March 8, while Tokyo confirmed 209 new infections less than a week before the coronavirus state of emergency in both areas is set to expire.

But while Osaka’s tally has plummeted, deaths linked to the virus continue to remain comparatively high, with the prefecture reporting 11 on Monday.

The daily caseload in Tokyo, meanwhile, was down slightly from the 235 cases logged last Monday and the 260 on May 31. The capital’s average daily tally of new cases in the week to Monday stood at 380.4, compared with 422.9 a week earlier. The number of severely ill patients in Tokyo under the metropolitan government’s criteria came to 46, down one from the previous day.

Elsewhere, Okinawa Prefecture saw its caseload fall below 100 for the first time in about a month, reporting 54 cases, while Hokkaido saw 74 cases and 13 deaths, a day after the daily tally there dropped below 100 for the first time since April 19. Kanagawa Prefecture, meanwhile, fell under 200 cases for the second straight day, reporting 141 new infections.

Monday also saw Japan Airlines Co. begin vaccinations for employees, a day after All Nippon Airways Co. became the first Japanese firm known to have started offering a workplace inoculation program.

With the kick off of JAL and ANA’s inoculation programs, the government is hoping shots at workplaces and university campuses speed up vaccinations ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, which kick off in less than 40 days. The new program comes on top of the country’s existing inoculation drive, which is still mainly focused on health care workers and older people. It also comes as major urban centers in Japan remain under the state of emergency.

As of Monday morning, the cumulative number of cases confirmed in Japan, including among cruise ship passengers and crew members, reached 775,935, up by 12,712 from a week before. The pace of growth decreased by about 4,800 from the preceding week, marking a decline for four weeks in a row. The country’s death toll from the virus, meanwhile, rose by 492 to 14,090.

By prefecture, Tokyo had the largest cumulative number of infections, at 166,369, followed by Osaka, at 101,774, Kanagawa, at 64,195, Aichi, at 49,881, and Saitama at 45,040.

On Sunday, a total of 1,387 new cases were confirmed nationwide, with the daily total slipping below 2,000 for the third straight day. Thirty-two related deaths linked to the virus were reported across the country, while the number of seriously ill COVID-19 patients decreased 38 from the previous day to 852, falling under 900 for the first time since April 25, according to the health ministry.

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