• Staff report, Jiji

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The cumulative number of new COVID-19 cases nationwide topped 1.5 million on Wednesday, in the latest sign of just how quickly the virus is spreading under the latest wave of infections.

While it took about 15 months for the cumulative number of cases to reach 500,000 after the first case in Japan was confirmed in January last year, it took just 26 days for the number to rise from 1 million in early August to 1.5 million, indicating the accelerated pace of spread last month.

Japan confirmed 20,031 new cases on Wednesday, sending the total tally since the discovery of Japan’s first case last year to 1,511,394.

The number of severely ill COVID-19 patients stood at 2,092 across Japan, down 18 from Tuesday. It was the first fall since July 20.

Seventy-one coronavirus deaths were reported nationwide, the highest number since July 28, when 78 died.

Osaka Prefecture reported 3,004 new COVID-19 cases, topping the 3,000 threshold for the first time even as infections in Tokyo and other areas continue to fall.

Osaka, which confirmed 2,347 cases a day earlier, also reported 12 deaths linked to the virus.

In the capital, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government reported 3,168 new cases, as well as seven new fatalities among infected people. Tokyo’s daily infection total fell by 1,060 from a week earlier, down for the 10th consecutive day.

The daily infection tally there averaged 3,369.3 for the past week, down from 4,471.4 in the preceding week.

The number of severely ill COVID-19 patients in Tokyo under the metropolitan government’s criteria stood at 286, down one from the previous day.

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