Photo/Illutration People wearing face masks walk through a famed shopping street in the Harajuku neighborhood in Tokyo on Dec. 17. (AP Photo)

Tokyo officials confirmed 664 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Dec. 18, down from the record-breaking 822 cases in the capital the previous day, while Saitama marked a daily record.

The Saitama prefectural government said it confirmed 201 new infection cases, the first time the daily count for the prefecture has exceeded 200. The previous daily record in the prefecture was 199 on Dec. 12. 

In Osaka Prefecture, officials confirmed 309 new cases on Dec. 18, the fourth straight day the daily count has exceeded 300.

In Tokyo, the 664 cases pushed the total number past the 50,000 mark to stand at 50,154.

The spike alarmed metropolitan government officials enough that Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike on Dec. 17 issued a “special COVID-19 alert for year-end and the new year,” urging residents to avoid infection risks throughout the upcoming holidays.

Of the 664 new patients on Dec. 18, those in their 20s accounted for the highest number among age groups with 185 testing positive for the virus.

That was followed by 139 in their 30s, 101 in their 40s and 76 in their 50s. Those aged 65 or older accounted for 83.

Sixty-six patients were classified as having severe symptoms that require the use of a ventilator or an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) device, which circulates blood through an artificial lung. The figure remained unchanged from the previous day.

Tokyo officials on Dec. 17 issued its highest Level 4 alert for medical services, warning that the capital’s health care system is nearing collapse from the increasing number of COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization.