• Reuters, Staff report


Osaka, Okinawa, Hiroshima and Kyoto prefectures all reported record daily numbers of COVID-19 cases on Saturday, fueled by the spread of the highly transmissible omicron variant.

Nationwide, new COVID-19 cases hit 25,742, topping 25,000 for the first time since Aug. 26 and coming close to the record 25,992 reported on Aug. 20, less than two weeks after the closing ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics.

Okinawa, which hosts 70% of the U.S. military facilities in Japan, said it recorded 1,829 new coronavirus cases on Saturday.

Gov. Denny Tamaki previously said he was "furious" about what he called inadequate infection controls at U.S. bases that allowed the variant to spread to the public.

Japan has since stepped up coronavirus restrictions in three regions that host U.S. military facilities, which have also announced stricter infection controls.

Though Japan halted the entry of almost all foreign travelers into the country last November, the U.S. military moves staff in and out of the country under a separate testing and quarantine regime.

The COVID-19 surge continued Saturday in Tokyo as well, with the capital logging 4,561 new infections, compared to 1,224 a week ago. A total of 2,224 people newly infected with the virus had been vaccinated twice, while 1,035 had not received a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The number of patients with serious symptoms in the capital stood at four, up by one from Friday. One death was recorded in the capital.

Osaka tallied a record 3,692 cases, up from 2,826 a day earlier. Neighboring Hyogo Prefecture tallied 1,191.

Elsewhere, Hiroshima Prefecture saw a record 1,212 cases, its first time over 1,000, Kyoto Prefecture recorded a new daily high of 725 infections, while Hokkaido reported 695 cases, its first time over 600 since May last year.

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