• Staff report, Jiji

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Tokyo confirmed 236 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, rising from the 209 infections reported a week ago and 235 cases reported June 7.

The seven-day average of daily new cases in the capital came to 391.9, up from 380.4 a week before, the metropolitan government said. The number of severely ill COVID-19 patients under the capital’s criteria rose by two from Sunday to 47. The capital also reported one death linked to the virus.

Elsewhere, Okinawa Prefecture, which is the only prefecture under a coronavirus state of emergency after the status ended in other areas Sunday, posted 33 cases, while Hokkaido reported 37 cases and four deaths.

As of Monday morning, the total number of cases confirmed nationwide stood at 785,984, up 10,049 from a week before. The pace of growth slowed by some 2,600 from the previous week, marking a decline for the fifth consecutive week. The country’s death toll linked to the virus, meanwhile, rose by 349 to 14,439.

By prefecture, Tokyo topped the list of total cases, at 169,085, followed by Osaka Prefecture, at 102,440, Kanagawa Prefecture, at 65,464, Aichi Prefecture, at 50,513, and Saitama Prefecture, at 45,531.

Tokyo, Osaka and five other prefectures shifted to a quasi-emergency Monday after exiting the country’s third state of emergency a day earlier. The quasi-emergency designation, allowing powerful “priority” measures similar to those that can be taken under a state of emergency, is set to continue through July 11.

The government hopes to prevent new infection cases from rebounding in the lead-up to the postponed Tokyo Olympics, due to open on July 23, and Paralympics, set to begin on Aug. 24.

The seven prefectures that shifted to the quasi-emergency stage from the state of emergency were Hokkaido, Tokyo, Aichi, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo and Fukuoka.

Okayama and Hiroshima prefectures did not shift to the quasi-emergency though they exited the state of emergency. Okinawa Prefecture will remain under the emergency until July 11.

“There will be no other choice but to strengthen countermeasures if infections increase again” in areas that exited the state of emergency this time, economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said during a television program.

“We’ll consider declaring a state of emergency again without hesitation while examining the hospital bed situation.”

The quasi-emergency designation ended Sunday for Gifu and Mie prefectures while being extended until July 11 for Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures. With the seven prefectures including Tokyo newly added, the designation affects a total of 10 prefectures.

In the 10 prefectures, restaurants and bars are asked to close by 8 p.m. in areas placed under the quasi-emergency. If the establishments take enough infection preventive measures, they will be allowed to sell alcoholic drinks until 7 p.m.

Governors of the prefectures can take tougher coronavirus measures at their discretion.

The quasi-emergency designation also allows governors to order businesses to shorten their operating hours. Those not following such orders may be subject to a fine of up to ¥200,000.

On Sunday, Japan reported a total of 1,308 new cases and 20 deaths linked to the virus. According to the health ministry, the number of severely ill COVID-19 patients nationwide dropped by 26 from the previous day to 714.

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