TOKYO, July 7 (Xinhua) -- The Japanese government said Thursday that the number of COVID-19 cases was continuing to rise, with the spike in figures coming at the same time as a number of coronavirus rules and restrictions have recently been eased.
On Thursday, the nationwide daily tally of new COVID-19 cases hit 47,977 as of 7:30 p.m. local time. This compares to 45,000 daily new infections reported across the Asian country a day earlier, according to official figures.
As for the capital, a barometer of the future direction of COVID-19 cases in Japan, the Tokyo metropolitan government reported 8,529 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, compared to 8,341 infections reported on Wednesday.
Thursday's figure in the capital also marks an increase of more than 4,900 from a week ago.
The figure, the local government noted, marks the 20th straight day of week-on-week increase and the third straight day that the daily tally more than doubled from a week earlier.
As for those hospitalized by the COVID-19 virus, the local government said the seriously ill patients requiring breathing apparatus such as ventilators or ECMO heart-lung machines, totaled six on Thursday, down by two from a day earlier.
Following Tokyo, Osaka reported 4,615 new COVID-19 cases, while Tokyo's neighboring Kanagawa Prefecture said there were 3,130 new infections. There were 2,712 new cases in Aichi Prefecture, its local government said, while the figure for another of Tokyo's neighbors Saitama Prefecture stood at 2,434 on Thursday.
The cumulative number of people confirmed to have been infected with COVID-19 in Japan is 9,551,285, including those in airport quarantine and passengers and crew on cruise ships.
The death toll from the pandemic rose by 15 on Thursday to total 31,379 in Japan.
As the COVID-19 figures rise nationwide, Japan is moving towards fully opening up its borders to overseas visitors, having maintained the strictest border controls among Group of Seven (G7) members for the longest time.
In addition, amid a searing heatwave, the Japanese government has advised people not to wear masks when outside, as long as social distancing measures are adhered to.