• staff report, Jiji, Kyodo

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Tokyo has confirmed 5,534 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, topping the 5,000 mark for the second straight day, while Osaka reported a record 2,443 cases as infections continue to rise across the nation due to the spread of the highly transmissible delta variant.

The seven-day average of new cases in Tokyo rose 20.1% from the week before to 4,774. The number of severely ill patients in the capital fell by one to 274.

Tokyo’s neighboring prefectures also reported high figures, with Saitama confirming a record 2,170 cases, Kanagawa with 2,340 cases and Chiba with 1,410 new cases.

The number of new infections in Osaka hit a record high for the third straight day, and marked over 2,000 for two days in a row.

Hyogo Prefecture reported 1,078 new cases, the second-highest on record, while Aichi Prefecture confirmed 1,221 new cases, also the second-highest.

Record figures were confirmed in other prefectures, including Okinawa at 768, Shizuoka at 677, Gunma at 317, Tochigi at 273 and Kagoshima at 251.

The country reported 25,156 new cases. There were 26 new deaths from COVID-19 across the country.

The number of patients with severe symptoms across Japan grew by 49 from Wednesday to 1,765, hitting a record high for the seventh straight day.

The health ministry said the number of COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms across the country stood at 1,716 as of Wednesday, hitting a record high for the sixth straight day. The tally was up by 70 from the previous day.

Shigeru Omi, Japan’s top COVID-19 adviser, said Thursday that the actual number of new cases is likely higher than reported figures since the country’s coronavirus test capacity has been failing to meet growing demand.

Speaking at an off-session meeting of the Diet, Omi reiterated the need to reduce the flow of people in Tokyo by half from the level in the first half of July. “It is extremely important for the central and local governments to deal with the situation while keeping in mind that this is a disaster.”

“There is room for improvement in the way of sending messages to the public” as the government has failed to win cooperation from the entire society, he added.

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