• STAFF REPORT, JIJI

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Japan reported a record 14,207 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, according to public broadcaster NHK, as Tokyo confirmed a single-day high of 4,166 new infections amid a surge in the number of delta variant cases.

The National Institute of Infectious Diseases said the same day that the delta variant had made up roughly 90% of new infections in the Kanto region and about 60% of new cases in the Kansai region as of the beginning of this month.

Wednesday’s total in the capital was more than the 3,709 posted the previous day and was also up nearly 1,000 from the 3,177 cases reported a week before.

The seven-day average of new cases in the capital came to 3,478.7 cases, compared with 1,954.7 a week earlier, while the number of severe COVID-19 cases under the metropolitan government’s criteria rose by three from the previous day to 115. The capital also reported one death linked to the virus.

The soaring cases in Tokyo come after the state of emergency in the capital and Okinawa Prefecture was extended and three prefectures neighboring the capital and Osaka Prefecture were added Monday. That emergency declaration is scheduled to run through the end of the month.

But the effectiveness of the emergency has been called into question by some, and Shigeru Omi, Japan’s top medical adviser, said that Tokyo is likely to see 6,000 to 8,000 cases per day next week, while a worst-case scenario could see “a possibility of 10,000 people a day,” local media reported.

“(The daily cases) won’t suddenly drop now,” Omi was quoted as saying.

On Wednesday, the three prefectures in the Tokyo area under the emergency continued to see soaring daily caseloads, with both Saitama, at 1,200 cases, and Chiba, with 840 infections, reporting daily records. Kanagawa, meanwhile, reported 1,484 new cases, topping 1,000 for the eighth straight day. Ibaraki Prefecture, which borders Chiba, confirmed a record 290 cases.

But the COVID-19 surge has not been limited to the metropolitan area.

In the Kansai region, Osaka Prefecture reported 1,224 cases — the most since May — Hyogo Prefecture saw 422 cases and Kyoto Prefecture logged a record 277 infections.

Elsewhere, hard-hit Okinawa Prefecture confirmed 602 cases — refreshing its single-day record for the second day in a row — while Hokkaido reported 366 infections, its most since May 29. Fukuoka Prefecture, meanwhile, saw a record 752 new infections and Aichi Prefecture reported 376 cases.

Omi also told a parliamentary committee that expanding the emergency nationwide should be subject to discussion, while stressing the need for stronger steps to contain a surge in infections.

Elsewhere, hard-hit Okinawa Prefecture confirmed 602 cases — refreshing its single-day record for the second day in a row — while Hokkaido reported 366 infections, its most since May 29.

Other prefectures posting single-day records on Wednesday included:

  • Gunma Prefecture, with 204 cases
  • Shizuoka Prefecture, with 202 infections
  • Tochigi Prefecture, with 178 cases
  • Niigata Prefecture, with 78 infections
  • Mie Prefecture, with 74 cases
  • Saga Prefecture, with 103 infections

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