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Osaka Prefecture reported a single-day record 719 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday amid growing concerns about the far more infectious U.K. strain of the deadly virus. Tuesday’s number in Osaka more than doubled the previous day’s figure, 341, which included 270 infections involving the U.K. variant.

In an attempt to contain the coronavirus and the variant that is rapidly spreading in Kansai, Osaka officials began street patrols Monday to enforce safety and social distancing protocols at restaurants and bars.

But with Osaka and neighboring Hyogo Prefecture seeing a large rise in cases involving the U.K. strain, the effectiveness of the measures being taken in both prefectures to prevent its spread is uncertain, Eric Johnston reports.

Flow of people drops on first day of priority preventive measures against coronavirus | NIPPON TV NEWS 24 JAPAN
Flow of people drops on first day of priority preventive measures against coronavirus | NIPPON TV NEWS 24 JAPAN

Restaurant and hotel operators in Osaka and Hyogo, and in Miyagi in the northeast, have expressed anger, desperation — but also some understanding — after the three prefectures areas were given powers by the government to take stronger measures for a month to tamp down COVID-19 infections.

As for the wider economy, experts say a full recovery is unlikely until well after the vaccination of the public is underway, Osamu Tsukimori reports. Norinchukin Research Institute economists project the pace of recovery will be “stop and go” until herd immunity is attained around the end of 2021.

Tuesday’s (and last Tuesday’s) new COVID-19 cases by prefecture (50 or over): Osaka 719 (432), Tokyo 399 (364), Hyogo 276 (176), Saitama 116 (107), Aichi 112 (56), Miyagi 103 (121), Kanagawa 100 (96), Okinawa 98 (87), Nara 78 (47), Hokkaido 63 (56), Chiba 62 (81), Kyoto 55 (30), Fukuoka 51 (29). Source: Japan COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker

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