• staff report, Jiji, Kyodo

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Tokyo confirmed 3,099 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, a day after the cumulative number of coronavirus infections in Japan exceeded 1.5 million.

Osaka Prefecture reported 2,501 cases, down significantly from the record 3,004 reported the day before, and eight deaths, while Aichi Prefecture saw 1,719 new cases and two deaths.

It took only 26 days for the nationwide sum to go from 1 million to 1.5 million amid the fifth wave of infections driven by the delta variant. It took four months for the tally to rise to 1 million from 500,000.

In Tokyo, however, new infections have been on a downward trend, with Thursday’s figure in the capital down by 1,605 from a week before, marking the 11th consecutive day of a week-on-week drop.

The seven-day average of new cases in Tokyo came to 3,140.0, down from 4,352.9 a week before.

The number of severely ill COVID-19 patients under the Tokyo metropolitan government’s criteria stood at 291, up by five from Wednesday. There were 10 deaths from COVID-19 confirmed on Thursday.

With the number of new infections and serious cases still high, the government is now considering extending the COVID-19 state of emergency covering Tokyo and 20 of the nation’s 47 prefectures by another two weeks from its planned Sept. 12 expiration, government sources have said.

The highly contagious delta variant is still spreading rapidly and severe cases are putting a heavy strain on the medical system, making it difficult to lift the emergency measures as scheduled, they said.

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