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Osaka Prefecture posted 593 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, a day after logging a record-high 666 infections. Osaka’s figure has now topped Tokyo’s total for six straight days. The capital registered 355 new cases Sunday.

While the vaccinations are supposed to be the silver bullet that returns society to normalcy, even an accelerated inoculation campaign is unlikely to have a big impact on a growing fourth wave of infections in Tokyo, Osamu Tsukimori reports — with a fifth wave still to come, new research suggests.

Virus variants could complicate the picture in Tokyo, potentially making the fifth wave worse by orders of magnitude, the University of Tsukuba study warns. Prefectural governors asked the central government on Sunday to strengthen screening tests for mutant strains of the coronavirus.

Tokyo suburb begins delivering coronavirus vaccine coupons for elderly | NIPPON TV NEWS 24 JAPAN
Tokyo suburb begins delivering coronavirus vaccine coupons for elderly | NIPPON TV NEWS 24 JAPAN

The study also shows the importance of “circuit breaker” steps such as the semi-emergency measures that went into effect today in six cities in Osaka, Hyogo and Miyagi prefectures. The government is hoping that these localized restrictions will prevent the need for a full-blown third state of emergency.

The media have been using the term manbō to refer to the quasi-emergency designation in those three areas, a trend that has upset one Miyagi city. Kesennuma said the play on words — it’s also the name of a local fish — could “negatively affect the image of the popular ocean sunfish, as well as a recovering roadside facility” in the city that uses the fish as its logo.

Sunday’s (and last Sunday’s) new COVID-19 cases by prefecture (50 or over): Osaka 593 (323), Tokyo 355 (313), Hyogo 211 (93), Kanagawa 142 (64), Saitama 135 (114), Chiba 124 (92), Aichi 116 (86), Okinawa 96 (68), Miyagi 80 (134), Kyoto 63 (26), Hokkaido 53 (74). Source: Japan COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker

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