• staff report, Jiji, Kyodo

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Tokyo confirmed 452 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, with the government announcing later in the day that the state of emergency in the capital and other prefectures will end Sunday.

The decision comes as infections decline nationwide and vaccinations gradually ramp up, though there are concerns that easing restrictions amid the spread of highly contagious variants of the coronavirus could trigger a resurgence.

"More people are going out. We must be mindful of coronavirus variants and prevent a rebound" in infections, Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister responsible for COVID-19 response, said Thursday.

The seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases in the capital was at 386.4, compared to 391.7 a week before. The number of patients with severe symptoms was 40, down five from Wednesday.

Okinawa Prefecture reported 97 new cases Thursday. Okinawa is the only prefecture where an emergency declaration will remain in place because of the heavy strain on its medical system.

Elsewhere, Hokkaido reported 73 new cases and four deaths while Osaka Prefecture logged 95 new cases and four deaths. Chiba Prefecture and Kanagawa tallied 185 and 124 cases, respectively.

On Wednesday, Japan reported 1,709 new COVID-19 cases and 80 deaths.

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