Japan on Friday confirmed its first cases of a mutated form of COVID-19 in five people who entered the nation from the U.K., health minister Norihisa Tamura said.
The same day, Japan confirmed a record 3,748 new coronavirus cases, the third consecutive day above 3,000.
Also on Friday, the country reported 42 new deaths from the virus, while there were 644 seriously ill COVID-19 patients.
Four prefectures saw their daily case counts hit record highs, with Saitama at 298, Kyoto at 121, Hyogo at 232 and Kumamoto at 56.
Of Hyogo's new cases, 71 involved a hospital in Kakogawa, where a cluster of infection has emerged.
Five workers at the Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture have tested positive for the virus in an apparent cluster.
On Friday evening, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said that greater caution will be necessary to prevent further spread over the holiday period. »