Photo/Illutration People wearing protective masks to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus wait for a traffic light near banners reading "Stay Home" in Tokyo on Jan. 14. (AP Photo)

The number of new COVID-19 cases in Tokyo fell under 2,000 on Jan. 16, but the figure for patients in serious condition rose by three to 136, metropolitan government officials said.

The officials confirmed 1,809 new coronavirus infections, down from 2,001 on Jan. 15, when the tally exceeded 2,000 for the first time in six days.

However, any increase in patients with serious symptoms is troubling because they require ventilators or an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) device, which circulates blood through an artificial lung.

Such equipment and available hospital beds are becoming more difficult to obtain in the capital because of the recent surge in infections.

Of the latest cases on Jan. 16, 379 patients were in their 20s, 302 in their 30s and 294 in their 40s. There were also 318 aged 65 or older.