Photo/Illutration Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike speaks to reporters on May 13. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Both Tokyo and Osaka Prefecture reported declines in the number of new infections on May 17, prompting words of optimism from the governor in the hard-hit Kansai region.

Osaka Prefecture confirmed 382 new COVID-19 cases, the first tally below 400 since April 5.

The daily number has stayed below the 1,000 mark for nine consecutive days through May 17.

Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura said he believes that the number of new infections has entered a downward trend.

Still, the death toll from COVID-19 in the prefecture totaled 1,958 as of May 16, more than the 1,951 in Tokyo and the largest in Japan.

Tokyo on May 17 confirmed 419 new COVID-19 cases, down by 154 from a week earlier.

Still, the daily average for the week through May 17 came to 784.4, or 100.7 percent of that for the preceding week.

Of the 419 new patients in Tokyo, 126 were in their 20s, the largest age group, followed by 85 in their 30s, 53 in their 40s, and 49 in their 50s.

There were 51 new patients aged 65 or older.

The number of serious cases stood at 85, up one from the previous day. Tokyo defines serious cases as those requiring a ventilator or an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) device, which circulates blood through an artificial lung.

Tokyo and Osaka are among nine prefectures covered under the COVID-19 state of emergency through the end of May.

In addition, quasi-emergency anti-virus measures are in place in 10 prefectures.