Osaka to report about 6,000 new COVID-19 cases, setting a record high

Osaka Prefecture is set to report about 6,000 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday — a record high — as the central government prepares to put Tokyo and other prefectures under quasi-emergency measures amid the rapid spread of the omicron variant.

The daily count of new cases in Japan totaled 20,991 on Monday, topping 20,000 for the fourth straight day, but deaths have remained low. Nationwide on Monday, four deaths linked to COVID-19 were confirmed. The number of severely ill COVID-19 patients across the country rose by eight from Sunday to 243, according to the health ministry.

Osaka reported 2,549 new cases on Monday, an increase of more than fivefold from a week before. Tokyo confirmed 3,719 new cases the same day, more than quadrupling the total from a week ago.

Sources said Tuesday that Japan will halt the implementation of its so-called vaccine-and-testing package, a government system combining COVID-19 vaccinations and testing in a bid to restart economic activities.

According to the health ministry, 84% of new positive cases confirmed in the week through Jan. 9 were believed to be of the omicron variant. Although the variant apparently tends to cause milder symptoms than other variants, the pace of spread is the fastest yet seen.

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