• STAFF REPORT, JIJI, KYODO

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Tokyo reported 1,149 new COVID-19 infections on Wednesday, topping the 1,000-case barrier for the first time since early May, and Osaka Prefecture confirmed 349 cases, as the two urban centers grappled with a surge in new patients.

The figure in the capital, which comes just days after Tokyo was placed under its fourth COVID-19 state of emergency and just over a week before the July 23 start of the Olympics, topped the 920 cases reported a week ago and is the most since it saw 1,184 it saw on Jan. 22.

It came as new infections in Tokyo averaged 823.3 per day in the week leading up to Wednesday, compared with 631.7 the previous week, and as the number of severely ill COVID-19 patients under the metropolitan government’s criteria fell to 54 from 58 a day earlier. The capital also reported four deaths linked to the virus.

With the emergency, which went into effect Monday and is set to last until Aug. 22 — a period that will cover the duration of the Tokyo Games — the government is aiming to curb the movement of people during the global sporting event, as well as the summer vacation period including Japan’s Bon holiday in mid-August.

Despite the emergency, however, pedestrian traffic in busy areas of the capital did not dramatically decrease from the week before, information based on smartphone location data found.

The capital’s neighboring prefectures of Saitama, Kanagawa and Chiba reported 243, 361 and 208 cases, respectively. The caseload in Saitama was the most since early May and the total in Chiba was the highest since March.

Outside the capital region, Osaka’s dramatic surge in cases more than doubled the 151 infections it reported a week ago as it also confirmed two deaths linked to the virus. Meanwhile, Okinawa Prefecture, which saw its state of emergency extended, logged 83 new cases and five deaths. Hard-hit Hokkaido reported 75 new infections.

On Tuesday, 2,386 people tested positive for the coronavirus nationwide, while new COVID-19 fatalities stood at 18 and the number of severely ill patients fell by eight to 424.

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