TOKYO: Japan confirmed 622 new cases of novel coronavirus infection on Thursday, the third-highest level since the outbreak started in the country.
The daily count exceeded 600 for the first time since April 11, when it peaked at 755.
In Tokyo, 286 new infection cases, a record daily high, were found on Thursday. The previous high in the Japanese capital was 243, marked on Friday.
Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan, saw 14 new cases on Thursday, the highest there since the beginning of the epidemic. Cluster infections happened at two places, including Tohoku Institute of Technology in Sendai, the capital of the prefecture.
In some prefectures, the daily figure hit the highest level after the Japanese government lifted its state of emergency over the virus crisis in May. Among them, Osaka had 66 cases, Saitama 49, Kanagawa 47, Chiba 32, Aichi 21, Hyogo 17, Kyoto 13 and Kagawa 10. “Infection is starting to spread,” Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura told reporters, showing a sense of crisis.
Of the 286 people in Tokyo, 196 are in their 20s or 30s, and 67 in their 40s to 60s.
Sixty-seven people caught the virus in nightlife districts, such as at establishments with hospitality services, while untraceable cases stood at 137. The daily number of coronavirus tests conducted in Tokyo hit a record high of about 4,700.
“Increased testing has been boosting the rate of positive cases,” Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike told reporters .
There have been more cases of secondary infection, in which people who get infected at nurseries, care facilities and other places transmit the virus at home and elsewhere, according to the metropolitan government.
“We are also concerned that infections are increasing among various age groups,” Koike said.
On Wednesday, the Tokyo metropolitan government raised its coronavirus alert to the highest level following a recent spike in new cases. Tokyo has seen new cases of infection exceed 100 almost every day since July 2.
In Okinawa Prefecture, southernmost Japan, a taxi driver in his 80s tested positive for the virus on Thursday.
Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki said the driver has been frequently providing a ride for US military personnel, suggesting the possibility of the man catching the virus from someone related to the US military. Okinawa is home to the bulk of US bases in Japan.