• staff report, Jiji, Reuters, Kyodo


Japan logged 10,699 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, topping 10,000 for the first time a day after the the country logged 9,576.

Tokyo supplied a large share of that total, with the capital confirming 3,865 new cases, setting a record for the third straight day, with a surge in infections putting pressure on the government of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to take stronger countermeasures.

Thursday's figure comes after the capital reported 3,177 cases on Wednesday, its first time exceeding 3,000.

With the more contagious delta variant spreading quickly, prefectures surrounding Tokyo also saw high numbers, with Kanagawa reporting 1,164 cases, Saitama 864 and Chiba 506.

Osaka Prefecture reported 932 cases, while Okinawa Prefecture logged 392, a record high.

The seven-day average of new cases in the capital came to 2,224.1 cases, compared to 1,373.4 a week earlier.

The number of severe COVID-19 cases under the metropolitan government's criteria rose by one from the previous day to 81.

The government will decide on a COVID-19 state of emergency for three prefectures neighboring Tokyo — Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama — as well as for Osaka Prefecture on Friday, government sources said.

The fresh state of emergency will likely be in place through Aug. 31, with the current emergency in Tokyo and Okinawa prefecture extended until the same date, the sources said.

On Thursday, government top medical adviser warned Japan faces its most serious situation since the COVID-19 pandemic began, urging the government to send a "clearer, stronger message" about growing risks, including to the medical system.

"The biggest crisis is that society does not share a sense of risk," top medical adviser Shigeru Omi told a parliamentary panel. "The numbers (for Tokyo) surpassed 3,000 and this may have some announcement effect. Without missing this chance, I want the government to send a stronger, clearer message."

The National Institute of Infectious Diseases has estimated that the delta variant is now responsible for about 70% of infections in the metropolitan area.

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