• JIJI, Kyodo, staff report

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Daily COVID-19 cases in Japan topped 1,000 Tuesday for the first time since Oct. 6 last year, when the tally hit 1,125.

Tuesday’s count stood at 1,268, including infections found at airport quarantine.

One coronavirus fatality was reported, while the number of severely ill COVID-19 patients rose by two from Monday to 54.

Okinawa Prefecture confirmed 225 infection cases. Its daily number exceeded 200 for the first time since Sept. 16.

People in their 20s and 30s accounted for 135 of Tuesday’s total in Okinawa, according to the prefectural government. The surge in new cases apparently reflected an increase in contact between youths during the year-end and New Year’s holiday period, prefectural officials said.

In addition, 164 new cases were reported by U.S. forces in Okinawa, taking the number of COVID-19 infections found at U.S. military facilities in the prefecture since Dec. 15 to 996.

Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki reportedly said the southernmost prefecture is “already facing the sixth wave (of COVID-19 infections).”

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said that the governor told him Okinawa may request that the central government issue a quasi-state of emergency when they spoke on the phone.

Yamaguchi Prefecture reported 79 positive cases Tuesday, including 62 in Iwakuni, host of the U.S. military’s Iwakuni base, which has been hit by a large cluster of infections.

In Tokyo, 151 people were confirmed positive, up by 105 from a week before. Its daily tally exceeded 150 for the first time since Oct. 3.

Osaka and Hiroshima prefectures saw 124 and 109 cases, respectively. Osaka topped 100 for the first time in 2½ months, and Hiroshima for the first time in three months.

The daily number of cases found at airport quarantine in Japan hit a record high of 117.

According to health ministry and other data, the total number of infections with the omicron variant found so far in Japan has exceeded 1,000.

Okinawa confirmed 47 new omicron cases. The new strain was found for the first time in Hokkaido in the far north and Nagasaki in the southwest.

Community transmission of the omicron variant was confirmed for the first time in Gunma and Nara prefectures.

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