• Staff report, Jiji, Kyodo

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The national tally of coronavirus cases exceeded 20,000 on Friday for the first time since Sept. 1, only two days after topping 10,000 for the first time in over four months, as a sixth wave of the pandemic spurred by the omicron variant continues to spread across the country.

The figure hit 22,045 as new cases hit record highs in prefectures including Nagano, Kyoto, Ehime and Kumamoto. Ten deaths due to COVID-19 were recorded, while the number of patients with severe symptoms rose by 96 from Thursday to reach 221.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government confirmed 4,051 new coronavirus cases, more than a fourfold increase from a week before.

The capital's daily tally last reached over 4,000 on Aug. 27.

The seven-day rolling average of new COVID-19 cases stood at 1,950.4 per day in the capital, nearly six times higher than a week before.

The metropolitan government has projected that the average could rise to around 10,000 next week.

The number of severely ill COVID-19 patients under the metropolitan government's criteria stood at three, down by one from Thursday. One death was reported among those infected.

Osaka Prefecture reported 2,826 cases the same day, with its tally topping 2,500 for the first time since Sept. 2. Two deaths were also confirmed.

Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura told reporters he will request that the central government to put the prefecture under a quasi-emergency if the hospital bed occupancy rate reaches 35%. The ratio was 19% as of Thursday.

Kanagawa Prefecture logged 1,155 cases, with the figure exceeding 1,000 for the first time since Sept. 8. It also reported one death.

On Thursday, the nationwide count of new cases was 18,859, exceeding 15,000 for the first time since Sept. 4. The country's daily case count peaked at 25,990 on Aug. 20 last year during the fifth wave of infections.

Many prefectures reported record daily numbers, including Okinawa, Hiroshima and Yamaguchi, which are under the government's quasi-emergency measures.

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