Photo/Illutration Passengers wait for the last train of the day at JR Ikebukuro Station in Tokyo on Jan. 21. The railway operator moved up the time for the last train to help authorities prevent novel coronavirus infections. (Kazuhiro Nagashima)

Tokyo metropolitan government officials confirmed 1,471 new COVID-19 cases on Jan. 21, topping 1,000 for the ninth straight day, and warned that infections appear to be increasing among elderly people.

Metropolitan officials and health experts agreed to keep the alert level at the highest stage 4 in the capital for the spread of infections and the health care system’s ability to handle COVID-19 patients.

Patients 65 or older--an age group at a higher risk of developing serious symptoms--accounted for 290 of the new cases, nearly matching the number for patients in their 20s, who totaled 300.

Among the other new patients, 241 were in their 30s, 222 in their 50s and 196 in their 40s.

The number of serious cases stood at 159, down from a record 160 on Jan. 20, when 1,274 new infections were confirmed.

Tokyo defines serious cases as those requiring ventilators or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, an ECMO lung bypass machine.