• staff report, Jiji

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Japan's daily count of new coronavirus cases stood at 62,599 on Tuesday, exceeding 60,000 for the first time, as the central government prepared to put 18 more prefectures under virus quasi-emergency measures amid the rapid spread of the omicron variant.

Tokyo reported a record high 12,813 new cases, while many other prefectures also reported record figures, including Osaka at 8,612, Aichi at 4,120, Chiba at 3,251 and Kyoto at 1,622.

With the addition of more prefectures, 34 of the nation's 47 prefectures will now be under the COVID-19 restrictions.

The seven-day average of new cases in Tokyo came to 9,675, compared to 3,858.6 a week before.

The number of severely ill patients under Tokyo's own criteria rose by two from Monday to 14, while no deaths from COVID-19 were reported on Tuesday.

The occupancy rate of hospital beds for COVID-19 patients in the capital came to 39.8%.

On Monday, Japan reported 44,817 new cases, a record high for the day of the week. The daily tally rose 2.1-fold from a week before, but it stood below 50,000 for the first time in three days.

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