• staff report, Jiji, Kyodo

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Tokyo reported 1,979 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, rising by more than 670 from a week earlier, a day ahead of the kickoff of the Olympics in the capital.

The figure in Tokyo was the fifth highest daily tally ever in the city. It also surpassed the week-before figure for the 33rd consecutive day.

The surge continued in neighboring prefectures as well, with Kanagawa reporting 631 cases, its first time over 600 since January, as well as one death. Saitama saw 510 new cases, its first time over 500 since Jan. 16, and Chiba logging 343 new infections.

Daily new infections in the capital averaged 1,373.4 in the week to Thursday, compared with 882.1 the previous week.

The number of people severely ill with COVID-19 under the metropolitan government’s criteria rose by one, to 65, from a day earlier.

Elsewhere, Osaka Prefecture reported 461 new cases, over 400 for the second straight day, while Okinawa Prefecture confirmed 153 cases. Hokkaido reported 140 infections and Hyogo Prefecture 149.

Health experts warned Wednesday of a possible “critical” coronavirus situation in Tokyo, as they estimated infections could surge even further in early August during the Olympics.

The experts advising the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said the seven-day moving average of new infections in the capital could reach 2,600 per day as of Aug. 3 if the virus continues to spread at the current pace, a worse scenario than in the third wave that swept across Tokyo in the winter.

On Wednesday, Japan confirmed a total of 4,943 cases and 20 fatalities. Severely ill patients decreased 16 from Tuesday to 390, the health ministry said.

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