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The number of people infected with COVID-19 in Japan topped 200,000 on Monday as the disease continues to spread at unprecedented levels in major cities nationwide, with Tokyo logging 392 new cases, a record for a Monday. It took more than nine months, and two waves of the novel coronavirus, for the number of coronavirus infections reported in the nation to reach 100,000. But it took less than two months for that figure to double, notes Ryusei Takahashi.

National medical groups in Japan declared a state of medical emergency on Monday, urging the government to support the nation’s overburdened medical system. In Tokyo, Gov. Yuriko Koike announced the city would provide financial aid to health care facilities that continue to operate between Dec. 29 and Jan. 3. During that new year period, each hospital that remains open will receive ¥300,000 each day for every severely ill COVID-19 patient they treat, and ¥70,000 for every patient with milder symptoms.

The government will use ¥5 trillion in reserve funds secured under its fiscal 2021 draft budget for coronavirus measures. | KYODO
The government will use ¥5 trillion in reserve funds secured under its fiscal 2021 draft budget for coronavirus measures. | KYODO

The same day, the Cabinet approved a record-high ¥106.61 trillion ($1.03 trillion) draft budget for fiscal 2021. The total included ¥5 trillion in reserve funds that can be spent without parliamentary approval, designed to enable the government to respond swiftly if and when extra COVID-19 countermeasures are needed.

For the seventh consecutive year, the budget also sets aside a record amount for defense, totaling ¥5.34 trillion ($51.7 billion), as Japan seeks to introduce new standoff missiles capable of attacking enemy vessels from outside their firing range amid growing threats from China.

Monday’s new COVID-19 cases by prefecture (20 or over): Tokyo 392, Kanagawa 188, Osaka 180, Saitama 117, Chiba 117, Hokkaido 110, Fukuoka 93, Aichi 92, Hiroshima 78, Kyoto 47, Hyogo 44, Nara 31, Okayama 29, Okinawa 21, Shiga 20. Source: Japan COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker

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