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国际英语新闻:Japan reports 5,652 new COVID-19 cases as gov't nears vaccination rollout

Source: Xinhuanet    2021-01-23  我要投稿   论坛   Favorite  

TOKYO, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- Japan on Thursday confirmed 5,652 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the nation's cumulative total of infections to 352,688.

According to health officials, 94 people died across the country, with the death toll rising to a total of 4,873 people.

The latest figures also showed that the number of infected patients designated as being "seriously ill" stood at 1,014 nationwide, equaling the previous day's record.

In Tokyo, the hardest hit by the virus among Japan's 47 prefectures, 1,471 new cases were reported Thursday, bringing the capital's tally to 90,659 infections.

Thursday's figure marks the ninth straight day daily infections have exceeded the 1,000-mark, with 159 "seriously ill" patients reported in the capital of 14 million, one fewer than the previous day's record of 160 critical patients.

With the government being criticized for its slow response in dealing with the outbreak of the pneumonia-causing virus, it announced that an additional supply of Pfizer Inc.'s coronavirus vaccine will be made available for for 12 million people.

The government said Pfizer's vaccine is likely to gain approval from the health ministry for inoculation on Feb. 15.

Japan has already secured enough doses to vaccinate 72 million people, more than half of its population within this year. It agreed last year to buy 120 million doses for 60 million people from the U.S. pharmaceutical giant.

"We will be able to finally begin vaccinations now that a contract has been agreed upon," said health minister Norihisa Tamura during a press conference Wednesday.

"We requested as much vaccine supply as possible by the end of the first half of the year," Tamura said.

The Japanese government has also made agreements with British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca Plc. for doses to cover 60 million people, as well as inking a contract with Moderna Inc. for enough doses to inoculate 25 million people.

On Thursday, Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. said it has begun clinical trials here of U.S. biotech Moderna Inc.'s coronavirus vaccine candidate.

The Moderna vaccine is aimed to be rolled out in the first half of this year, sources close to the matter said.


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