Osaka new virus cases expected to top 6,000; Tokyo reports 5,185 cases

Japan's western prefecture of Osaka is expected to report around 6,000 COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, far outstripping its all-time daily high of 3,760 over the weekend, an official with knowledge of the matter said.
In recent weeks, various parts of Japan have been reeling from record coronavirus infections due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.
Due to the surge in new cases, Tokyo and other areas are asking the central government to place them under a quasi-state of emergency by which governors can request that dining establishments shorten their business hours and stop serving alcohol, and asking residents to refrain from traveling across prefectural borders.
"A number of prefectures have requested the measure, and we would like to decide on them speedily," Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said as he attended a meeting of the government and the ruling coalition led by his Liberal Democratic Party.
Japan's top COVID-19 adviser Shigeru Omi met with Kishida over the virus situation and the necessary response.
"The Omicron variant is clearly different from existing variants. It is crucial to take effective measures that suit its characteristics," Omi told reporters after the meeting.
The quasi-emergency measure, already in place for Hiroshima, Yamaguchi and Okinawa prefectures since earlier this month, is expected to be introduced across a wider area amid what health experts describe as the sixth wave of the pandemic.
Tokyo and Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Gifu and Mie prefectures made their requests on Monday, and Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said Tuesday the government has also received requests from Aichi, Nagasaki, Kumamoto and Miyazaki prefectures.
Niigata and Gunma prefectures also made their request in the afternoon amid fears over the rapid spread of the virus and strain on the medical system. Gunma Prefecture reported an all-time high of 375 new coronavirus cases the same day.
The central government is working on the requests and will make a decision as early as Wednesday, according to sources.
If declared, Japan would see 15 of its 47 prefectures under the antivirus measure.
The possible declaration will likely be effective for around three weeks from Friday, according to one of the sources.
In Tokyo, the metropolitan government on Tuesday reported 5,185 new coronavirus cases, up 1,466 from Monday and up 4,223 from last Tuesday.
By age group, 1,611 were in their 20s, 829 in their 30s and 678 on their 40s, while 769 were aged between 10 and 19.
The number of infected people hospitalized with severe symptoms in Tokyo is seven, up two from Monday, health officials said. The nationwide figure is 2461, up 18 from Monday.
Among other prefectures reporting high numbers were Aichi (2,145), Hyogo (1,645), Okinawa (1,443 plus 121 cases among U.S. military personnel), Hiroshima (900), Hokkaido (698), Gifu (382), Gunma (375), Niigata (281), Okayama (253), Kagoshima (237) and Ehime (237).
Editor: Story will be updated later with more nationwide numbers.

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© KYODO/Japan Today
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