• staff report, kyodo

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New COVID-19 cases in Okinawa Prefecture hit a record high of 981 on Thursday, while Tokyo reported 641 cases — the first time the daily figure for the capital has topped 600 since September.

At least 4,000 new COVID-19 cases were reported across the nation as of Thursday evening, a level not seen since Sept. 18 last year, as fears over a sixth wave of coronavirus infections grow.

Thursday’s daily count in Tokyo is about 10 times more than it was a week earlier, when the city reported 64 cases.

The seven-day average of daily cases in the capital came to 218.0, compared to 48.7 a week before.

The number of severe cases came to three, unchanged from Wednesday, while no deaths from COVID-19 were reported in Tokyo.

In Okinawa Prefecture, Thursday’s daily figure topped the previous record of 809, reported on Aug. 25 last year. On Thursday, Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki asked the central government to place the prefecture under quasi-emergency measures.

The highly transmissible omicron variant has been confirmed in at least 37 of Japan’s 47 prefectures. Infections have been rising since a cluster of cases occurred at one of the U.S. military bases in Okinawa last month.

The Okinawa Prefectural Government believes the resurgence of the virus in the prefecture is due to the omicron variant spreading from U.S. military facilities.

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