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Japan's coronavirus hospitalizations creep toward critical point

Record level of cases triggers warning of a 'third wave' and stress on medical system

Commuters in Tokyo: Over 20% of hospital beds dedicated to COVID-19 patients in the prefecture were occupied earlier in November. (Photo by Taro Yokosawa)

TOKYO -- A new surge of coronavirus cases in Japan is filling hospital beds at close to critical levels, putting pressure on government to take action to curb new infections and relieve strains on the health care system.

Japan set a record for new cases on Thursday, with 1,616 confirmed as of 8 p.m. The previous daily record was the 1,591 infections confirmed on Aug. 7. Medical experts and public officials have raised alarms that the country is heading into a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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