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New cases of community transmission of the omicron variant of the coronavirus have spread beyond major cities, with the latest case on Monday detected in Hiroshima Prefecture.

The latest instance of infection is a Hiroshima city resident in their 20s who has no history of traveling abroad. The patient has been vaccinated twice and has visited the Kansai region, which includes Osaka and Kyoto prefectures, according to prefectural authorities.

So far, community transmission of omicron has been reported in Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo, Fukuoka, Aichi and Hiroshima prefectures.

“To detect cases as quickly as possible, we are testing all COVID-19 positive cases to see if they are infected with the omicron variant, and asking all close contacts to be quarantined at designated facilities,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said Monday.

The government has set aside 66,000 rooms for mildly ill and asymptomatic patients, along with close contacts, to prepare for a sixth wave of the pandemic, Matsuno said.

Over the weekend, Fukuoka reported that a man in his 20s, who had no recent history of traveling abroad, had been infected with the omicron variant. It was not clear how he became infected, essentially making it a case of community infection, the prefecture said.

Aichi Prefecture announced two cases of community spread of omicron on Sunday — a mother in her 40s and her daughter who is between 10 and 19. The two have mild symptoms and were hospitalized after they tested positive last week.

Aichi has sent seven cases to a lab for genome analysis, since they did not test positive for the delta variant, of which five are awaiting results.

“We are considering it as a grave threat,” Aichi Gov. Hideaki Omura told reporters on Sunday.

The nationwide tally of coronavirus cases has been inching up in the past weeks, with, for instance, Sunday figures in December going from 113 on Dec. 5 to 115 on Dec. 12 and then 177 on Dec. 19 and 263 on Sunday, according to NHK. Case numbers on all other days in December have been increasing — albeit only slightly — from the same day the week before.

Information from Kyodo added

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