Photo/Illutration Travelers board a Shinkansen bullet train at Tokyo Station on Nov. 21. (Momoko Ikegami)

The number of new COVID-19 cases among U.S. military personnel in Okinawa Prefecture hit a daily record of 72 on Nov. 30, while the tally for patients in serious condition in Tokyo continued to climb.

Just north of the capital, Saitama Prefecture became the latest local government to seek shorter business hours to halt the spread of the virus.

Okinawa, Japan’s southernmost prefecture, reported that 32 residents, ranging from their teens to 90s, were newly confirmed infected on Nov. 30, bringing the overall total to 4,332.

Since July 7, the number of confirmed infections among U.S. military personnel in the prefecture has reached 560, affecting at least 10 bases. The previous daily record was 64 on July 25.

Tokyo confirmed 311 new COVID-19 cases on Nov. 30, down from 418 the previous day. However, the number of patients in serious condition requiring cardiac or respiratory support machines increased by three to 70, the most since May.

Sixty-nine of the new patients were in their 40s, followed by 68 in their 20s, 51 in their 30s, and 32 in their 50s, according to the Tokyo metropolitan government. 

Patients aged 65 or older totaled 57.

Tokyo businesses that serve alcohol started to reduce their operating hours on Nov. 28 on the request of Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike.

The Saitama prefectural government also decided to ask similar establishments and karaoke parlors in Omiya Ward in Saitama city and Kawaguchi and Koshigaya cities to close up by 10 p.m. from Dec. 7 to 17, prefectural officials said.

The prefecture plans to pay 220,000 yen ($2,115) to each business that complies with the request.

Saitama Prefecture reported more than 100 new cases for four straight days to Nov. 29, resulting in 61.5 percent of its hospital beds for COVID-19 patients occupied.

The prefectural government has already stopped issuing premium meal coupons for the central government’s Go To Eat campaign to support the restaurant industry.

Saitama Governor Motohiro Ono had been more eager to take measures to prevent group infections at nursing care facilities than to curtail business operating hours.

However, Ono decided to make the request for the shortened hours after Tokyo businesses started curbing their operations. Ono believed that such anti-COVID-19 measures should be taken cooperatively in the entire Tokyo metropolitan area, prefectural government officials said.

Hokkaido, Osaka and Aichi prefectures have also asked alcohol-serving businesses mainly in entertainment districts to shorten their business hours.