Report: Tokyo could see 3,000 daily cases in February if omicron appears locally this month

Courtesy of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases
The omicron variant of the novel coronavirus

An incidence of community-acquired infection of the highly transmissible omicron variant of the novel coronavirus in Tokyo later this month could result in a daily infection rate exceeding 3,000 cases in February, a team of researchers at Nagoya Institute of Technology has projected.

The team expressed concern that new infection cases could surge if the local transmission coincides as people travel and gather during the year-end and New Year’s holiday season.

The team, led by Akimasa Hirata, a professor of medical engineering at the university, based its projection on several factors, such as the omicron variant having a transmission rate 1.5 times that of the delta variant. Using artificial intelligence, the team estimated the number of new cases in Tokyo per day based on when the community-acquired infection of the omicron variant occurs.

The team found that if the infection occurs on Dec. 25, the projected daily count of new cases would pass 1,000 in late January and exceed 3,000 from mid-February. If the local spread of the variant does not occur until Jan. 16, the daily tally is predicted to peak in the 2,000 range in late February.

“It is important for each and every person to take thorough measures such as assuring ventilation and wearing masks, and if they don’t feel well, to get tested to make sure [the virus] is quickly detected,” Hirata said.