TOKYO, March 7 (Xinhua) -- The confirmed COVID-19 cases in Japan increased by 1,065 to reach 439,981 as of Sunday evening, according to the latest figures from the health ministry and local authorities.
The death toll in Japan from the pneumonia-causing virus currently stands at 8,276, with 25 new fatalities announced Sunday.
The health ministry also said there are currently 373 patients considered severely ill with ventilators or in intensive care units.
In Tokyo, the epicenter of Japan's outbreak, 237 new cases were reported on Sunday, with the cumulative total reaching 113,455, the highest among the country's 47 prefectures.
Japanese Health Minister Norihisa Tamura said on Sunday that his ministry could approve a second COVID-19 vaccine as early as May, as the government sees inoculation as essential to containing infections.
"There is the possibility of giving pharmaceutical approval as early as May or June," Tamura said on a TV program.
U.S. pharmaceutical firm Pfizer Inc.'s vaccine was the first to be approved for use in the country in February.
Britain's AstraZeneca Plc filed an application for its COVID-19 vaccine in early February while Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. also applied for approval of U.S. biotechnology company Moderna Inc.'s vaccine last Friday.